What is interstitial lung disease?

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a group of rare lung diseases where cells and tissues of the lungs are damaged and don’t work the way they should. This can cause fluid to collect in the lungs.


Although there are many types of ILD, many have similar symptoms. Some include:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • rapid breathing
  • wheezing, crackles or other abnormal sounds in lungs
  • using rib or neck muscles to help breathe
  • failure to gain weight
  • chronic cough


Before diagnosing a child with ILD, the doctor may first run tests to rule out other conditions.

There isn’t one test that covers the many types of ILD, but some tests that might be used include:

  • x-ray of the lungs
  • pulse oximetry
  • lung biopsy
  • pulmonary function tests
  • bronchoscopy 


There is no single treatment for ILD. Treatment depends on the particular condition.

Learn more about Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy, Immunology and Sleep services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.