The lungs are a very vital part of the human body, as it performs many functions especially aiding in breathing. Diffuse disease simply refers to a lung disorder that affects the interstitium, making it stiff and inflamed. In extreme cases, diffuse disease can cause death, therefore, it should be treated with uttermost urgency.
What is a diffuse disease?
As earlier said, diffuse disease is a lung disorder that specifically affects the connective tissue that supports the structure of the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This tissue is called the interstitium. During normal breathing, inhaling fills the air sacs with air, passing the oxygen into the bloodstream, while exhaling passes carbon dioxide from the blood to the air sacs and expels it from the body.
However, a patient with interstitial disease is unable to properly do this. The reason is that the disease causes the lungs to become fully inflamed and stiff, therefore restricting the air sacs from full expansion.
The disease limits the removal of carbon dioxide from the body, as well as the delivery of oxygen to the bloodstream. With time, it further restricts and thickens the walls of the air sacs, therefore impeding lung functions. Depending on the situation, inflammation may be confined to certain parts of the lung or spread across more areas. However, more often than not, it spreads throughout both lungs, hence the name “diffuse” disease.
How can it be treated?
Treating diffuse disease is not a straight forward process, as there are tests that need to be carried out at first. Some of these tests include pulmonary function (spirometry), pulse oximetry, blood tests, chest x-ray, surgical biopsy, chest CT, and bronchoscopy with biopsy. The tests to be carried out varies depending on your peculiar condition.
Also, treating the disease may also depend on your overall health status and possible underlying causes of the disease. However, medications, surgery, or respiratory therapy could also be prescribed to help improve the health condition. Depending on health status, drugs could also be prescribed to suppress the immune system or reduce inflammation.
For advanced stages, some patients may require lung transplant when oxygen or respiratory therapy does not do much good.
Why do diffuse diseases have to be treated?
You should know that diffuse diseases can be grouped based on pathology, cause or association with other diseases. This means that although it may stand alone, it is also likely to be associated with other underlying diseases. Usually, they are inflammatory or autoimmune diseases such as:
- Inflammatory bowel disease;
- Rheumatoid arthritis;
- Polymyositis and dermatomyositis (responsible for causing muscle weakness in the body);
- Scleroderma or systemic sclerosis.
It could also be caused by exposure to drugs such as antibiotics, chemotherapy agents, statins or inhaling substances like mold, smoke, silica, asbestos, chemicals, and more. Therefore, as a result of the fact that it often doesn’t stand alone, it is necessary that you treat it as urgent because the underlying disease may be far more deadly. Also, if there are no underlying causes, diffuse diseases themselves could also be fatal in chronic stages.
The causes of diffuse diseases range from simple body reaction to foreign substances to more deadly causes like inflammatory diseases. As soon as you experience symptoms like difficulty in breathing and lung swellings, muscle pains, tightened skin or joint pain, visit a professional immediately.