Pneumonitis

Pneumonitis is swelling (inflammation) of the lungs.

CAUSES

Many things can cause pneumonitis. These can include:

  • A bacterial or viral infection.

  • Work-related exposure to substances such as asbestos, silica, inhaled acids, or inhaled chlorine gas.

  • Birds. Repeated exposure to feathers or bird feces is a common cause of pneumonitis.

  • Medicine such as chemotherapy drugs, certain antibiotics and some heart medicines.

  • Radiation therapy.

  • Exposure to mold. If a hot tub or home humidifier has mold growing in it, mold can be breathed in through the water vapor.

  • Breathing in (aspiration) stomach contents, food or liquids into the lungs.

SYMPTOMS

  • Chronic cough.

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

  • Fever.

  • Decreased energy.

  • Decreased appetite.

  • Weight loss.

DIAGNOSIS

Pneumonitis can be diagnosed through a variety of ways, such as:

  • Your caregiver will do a complete history and physical exam.

  • Pulmonary function test.

  • Chest X-ray exam.

  • Computuerized Tomography (CT) scan of your lungs.

  • Bronchoscopy.

  • Surgical lung biopsy.

TREATMENT

Treatment is based on the cause of the pneumonitis. Once the cause is known, It is important to avoid further exposure to the cause of your pneumonitis. Medical treatment of pneumonitis may include:

  • Oxygen therapy.

  • Steroid medicine to help decrease inflammation in the lungs.

  • Antibiotic medicine to help fight a bacterial lung infection.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Do not smoke.

  • If you must continue to work with substances that can cause pneumonitis, wear a mask to protect your lungs.

  • Avoid environmental exposures such as air pollution, pollen or animals you might be allergic to.

  • If you use inhalers, keep them with you at all times.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You develop new or increased shortness of breath.

  • You develop a blue color (cyanosis) under your fingernails.

  • You have a fever.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.