Interstitial Lung Disease: Preventing Lung Infections

Interstitial Lung Disease: Preventing Lung Infections

Interstitial lung disease refers to a group of lung problems that cause the lungs to become inflamed and scarred. When you have interstitial lung disease, you’re more likely to develop a lung infection if you get a cold or the flu. An infection can worsen shortness of breath and other symptoms you may have. To stay healthier, avoid contact with germs. And get prompt treatment at the first sign of illness.

Close-up of woman at shink washing hands with bar of soap in running water.

Take Precautions

To help you avoid illness:

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap. Or clean your hands often with a hand gel that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Also try to keep your hands away from your face. Germs are often spread from the hands to the mouth.

  • Ask your health care provider about a pneumonia or flu vaccination.

  • Avoid crowds and close contact with others who may be ill. This is especially important in the winter when more people have colds and flu.

  • Get regular exercise. Also, make sure to eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep.

When to Get Treatment

If you get sick, the sooner you seek treatment, the more likely you are to prevent further damage to your lungs. Call your health care provider if you have any of the following:

  • Increased shortness of breath or wheezing with normal daily activities

  • A fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher

  • Severe coughing with discolored mucus

  • Increased fatigue

  • Chest tightness or pain that does not go away with your normal medications

  • Ankle swelling or rapid weight gain

Talk with your doctor about what you should do if you’re ill. Also, keep a list of your medications with you in case you get sick away from home.