Interstitial/Rare lung diseases

Interstitial lung diseases (ILD) are a group of rare lung conditions that cause chronic breathlessness.

The problem usually develops over the age of 50 years, and can affect both men and women, and also children. Generally the causes of these diseases are unknown. Only very rarely are ILDs inherited. They are not contagious.

The lungs are responsible for the delivery of oxygen into the blood stream and the removal of carbon dioxide. The major problem in ILD is inflammation of the lung tissue which leads to scarring (fibrosis) of the air sacs (alveoli) that interferes with the ability of the lungs to deliver oxygen. If the problem gets worse, the lungs become stiff, and shrink resulting in increased breathlessness.

The suite of factsheets below provides some further information on a number of interstitial lung diseases.