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Respiratory Bronchiolitis–Associated Interstitial Lung Disease and Desquamative Interstitial Pneumonia

By

Joyce Lee

, MD, MAS, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jun 2021| Content last modified Jun 2021
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION

Respiratory bronchiolitis-associated interstitial lung disease and desquamative interstitial pneumonia are rare conditions that cause chronic lung inflammation and occur mostly in current or former cigarette smokers.

Respiratory bronchiolitis-associated interstitial lung disease and desquamative interstitial pneumonias are types of idiopathic interstitial pneumonia. They have many similarities, so some experts think they may be part of the same disorder. However, desquamative interstitial pneumonia is often more severe. Both disorders primarily affect cigarette smokers in their 30s and 40s. Men are affected more often than women (ratio of almost 2:1).

Some people develop a cough. Most people develop shortness of breath with even minimal exertion.

Diagnosis

  • Chest computed tomography

A lung biopsy is often needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

  • Smoking cessation

Although doctors cannot always predict how the disorders progress over time, the prognosis for both is good when people stop smoking.

Smoking cessation Smoking Cessation While often very challenging, quitting smoking is one of the most important things smokers can do for their health. Quitting smoking brings immediate health benefits that increase over time... read more is the key treatment. Some doctors give corticosteroids or cytotoxic drugs (such as azathioprine or cyclophosphamide) because they may be effective in other interstitial lung diseases, but the effectiveness for these diseases is unknown.

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