Lungs perform the function of providing Oxygen to the body by stretching and expanding according to the air that is inhaled. If lungs lose the stretching property, the person cannot breathe. This causes harmful effects on brain and heart. Interstitial Lung Disease, losing of stretching property cannot be completely cured with medicines but the condition of the patient can be improved with steroids and life span can be increased. Oxygen Therapy also helps the patients to lead a normal life.
When lungs lose their natural property of stretching and expanding, Oxygen percentage in blood decreases. This condition is known as Interstitial Lung Disease-ILD. This is also called Lung Fibrosis. This is of two types.
- Idiopathic Fibrosis: There are no particular reasons for this. It is confirmed that this is genetic. Patients suffer from asthma and cough and many people neglect this thinking that this is common. When the disease becomes severe and affects the heart then the disease is identified.
- Secondary ILD: This condition is seen in patients of autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis, Scleroderma, Lupus, Psoriasis and joint related diseases.
Symptoms of ILD
ILD is generally seen in middle aged and old people but can affect any person at any age. Primary symptom of ILD is dry cough. Patients suffer from breathlessness and dry cough even when little physical work is done. This problem will be more during day time than night and this is special symptom of ILD.
Along with cough, swelling in legs, fatigue, sleeplessness and stomach pain are also seen in ILD. If this is neglected even at this state, Oxygen percentage is blood increases and Carbon dioxide increases which cause symptoms like giddiness, fits, snoring and fluctuations in blood pressure etc. If proper treatment is not taken in four or five years, condition of the patient will become serious with lung failure.
- Interstitial Lung Disease can be identified with X-ray. If Reticular Nodules are seen in X-Ray then High Resolution CT of Chest test will be done to confirm the disease.
- Patients who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, Lupus disease, Psoriasis and joint diseases should undergo X-Ray test for every six months to rule our ILD.
- When ILD is confirmed, Two-D echo, Arterial Blood Gas tests are done to know the severity of the disease. With AGB test it is possible to know the Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide percentages in blood.
- RA Factor, LE cells, ANA, Anti DS DNA, CRP tests should also be done. Treatment will give good results for Secondary ILD patients than Primary ILD patients.
Treatment for ILD
Though there are no medicines for completely curing ILD, life span of patients can be increased with proper treatment in the supervision of doctors. Steroids are mainly used in the treatment of ILD. Common people have some misconceptions about steroids and do not take the treatment and these further increases the disease. Along with steroids, Methotrexate, Calchicine, Cyclophosphamide drugs that reduce immuno response should be used. Doctors will prescribe the dose of these medicines depending on the severity of the disease. Calcium tablets and antacids are also used to reduce the bad affects of steroids. Patient should also take nutritious food. Steroids that cause very few side effects are also available now. Patients of ILD should consult an expert doctor and take suitable treatment to live common life.
Oxygen is also used as a medicine as part of ILD treatment. Since ten years Oxygen therapy is gaining popularity. Oxygen therapy is giving good results. With Oxygen Therapy it is possible to reduce stress on lungs, make lungs respond to the treatment and increase oxygen in blood. Oxygen Therapy can be given in two ways.
Oxygen Cylinders: One way of giving Oxygen therapy is through cylinders. This procedure has some disadvantage and now this is seldom used.
Oxygen Concentrator Machine: This procedure will be convenient to the patient. These machines supply Oxygen to the patient by utilizing 21% Oxygen in the atmosphere. This can be carried to anywhere. Price of these machines will be Rs. 30,000 – Rs.50,000.
From the recent studies it is proved that Oxygen Therapy can increase the life span of ILD patients. But oxygen therapy should be given carefully to patients of Asthma and COPD. Sometimes if Oxygen is taken in high doses, brain center which controls the lungs may lose its stimulation and this leads to increased levels of Carbon dioxide in blood. Therefore Oxygen Therapy must be taken only in the supervision of doctors.