- Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) refers to a group of problems in the lung that affects the “interstitium”. The interstitium refers to the tissue area in and around the wall of the airsacs (alveoli) of the lung area where oxygen moves from the alveoli into the the capillary network (small blood vessels) that covers the lung like a thin sheet of blood. Once the oxygen crosses the intersitial space it enters the bloodstream and is delivered to the vital organs of your body. ILDs cause this interstitial space to become inflammed or scarred making it more difficult for oxygen to get into the bloodstream. This inflammation and scarring also makes the lung a bit stiffer which can increase the 'work' of breathing and make you feel more breathless than normal, especially with exertion such as walking up stairs. The changes in the lung tissue can also cause a dry, hacky cough for some patients.
- Oxygen enters your lungs with each breath, travels down your windpipe (trachea) into smaller airways and finally into the alveoli and crossing the ‘alveolar-capillary membrane’ wall into the bloodstream. Oxygen is then carried by the blood to the rest of your body.
When these interstitial changes occur, your physician may see “increased interstitial markings” on your chest x-ray or CT scan because the inflammation, swelling or scarring of the interstitium makes the tissue denser so that it is now visible as white “interstitial markings” on the x ray or scan.