Treatment

Childhood Interstitial Lung Disease

Treatment depends upon the specific type of Childhood Interstitial Lung Disease (chILD) and the length and severity of symptoms. There is currently no cure for chILD, however treatments can be used to lessen symptoms.

Current treatment options include:

  • Medicines
    Medicines that suppress inflammation are commonly used to treat chILD. Some examples include: anti-inflammatory medications, glucocorticosteroids, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and other immune modifying drugs.
  • Oxygen
    Depending on how severe the symptoms are, sometimes oxygen therapy may be needed either during activity, sleep, or continuously. Oxygen can be supplied in different ways, but usually this is via cylinders or an oxygen concentrator.
  • Nutrition
    One of the common issues in chILD is poor growth, particularly in infants and younger children. Growth and lung function are closely related, so some children may need extra calories because it takes more work for them to breathe. It is important to discuss this with your doctor as this may mean they need nutritional support. This may include feeding supplements and/or nasogastric feeds (via a tube inserted through the nostril, down the eosophagus, and into the stomach) or gastrostomy feeds (via a tube directly into the stomach). A dietician is an important member of your child’s care team if nutritional support is needed.
  • Transplant surgery
    In very rare cases, complicated treatments like lung transplantation may need to be considered.

Other management options include:

  • Ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date
    Vaccination prevents infectious diseases that can have serious health consequences for children with chILD. It is important to discuss a vaccination schedule for your child with your doctor, including both routine and specific vaccines. This discussion should include an annual flu vaccination (in children over six months), as well as vaccinating against pertussis (whooping cough) and medicines which help protect against RSV infections
  • Avoiding exposure to smoke
    Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is harmful to all children in general, but can be particularly harmful to a child with lung disease, and should be avoided.
  • Avoiding infections
    Although it is almost impossible to prevent all lung infections, it is a good idea to avoid people who are suffering from colds and flus to reduce this risk. Close family members are not expected to avoid each other, but good handwashing and general hand hygiene, is advised.
In November 2014, at about 8 months old, Josh started to get sick. It coincided with his starting day care, so I didn’t think much of it at first. He would get infection after infection and by April 2015 had been treated with over a dozen courses of antibiotics. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew something wasn’t right.

Natalie, mother to Josh who lives with a rare lung disease.