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This information was reviewed and approved by Joshua Solomon, Katherine Rosen, Joshua J. Solomon, MD, Katherine Rosen, RN, MSN, ANP-C (1/31/2022).

The causes of interstitial lung disease (ILD) fall into four general categories.

1. Autoimmune or connective tissue disease.

Some autoimmune diseases that can cause ILD are:


2. Exposure to an agent that damages the lungs

For example, ILD can be caused by workplace exposure to inorganic dust — asbestos, silica or hard metal dust. Mold, bacteria or bird proteins are examples of organic dusts that can cause ILD. Smoking can cause ILD. Medications used to treat another condition, such as chemotherapy drugs, amiodarone or nitrofurantoin, are examples of drugs that have been linked to ILD.


3. Genetics

Multiple members of one family may develop ILD, and some of these cases have been tracked to a single set of genes. Some inherited diseases are known to cause ILD. Examples include Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.


4. “Idiopathic”

Meaning the cause is unknown. Some examples of idiopathic ILD include:

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