1 What is Pneumonitis?

The inflammation of lung tissue is called pneumonitis. Some of the doctors used the term pneumonitis when they are referring to other causes of lung inflammation even though pneumonia is technically a type of pneumonitis because of the infection that causes the inflammation.

Some of the causes of pneumonitis include airborne irritants form your hobbies or at your job. Some drugs and cancer treatments can cause pneumonitis.

The most common symptom of pneumonitis is difficulty in breathing with dry cough and treatments are for reducing inflammation and avoiding irritants.

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2 Symptoms

The symptoms of pneumonitis include:

Consult your doctor if you have difficulty in breathing.

You might develop chronic pneumonitis that can cause scarring or fibrosis in the lungs when left untreated. 

3 Causes

When an irritating substance causes the tiny sacs or alveoli in your lungs to become inflamed, pneumonitis occurs. Oxygen may find it difficult to pass through the alveoli into the bloodstream.

Some of the causes of pneumonitis are:

  • drugs – a variety of drugs including antibiotics, some chemotherapy drugs and if you had an overdose of aspirin,
  • molds and bacteria – repeated exposures can cause inflammation to the lungs such as farmer’s lung or hot tub lung,
  • birds – from the bird’s feathers and excrements,
  • radiation treatments – radiation therapy to the chest such as breast cancer, lung cancer or even after a whole body radiation therapy.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Consult your doctor if you have the symptoms of pneumonitis and he may refer you to a pulmonologist who specializes in lung disorders to receive a diagnosis.

Write down the symptoms that you are experiencing, if you or your parents have other medical problems. Make a list of all the supplements, vitamins and medications that you are taking.

Your doctor may ask you questions such as:

  • Do you smoke tobacco?
  • What type of hobbies or jobs do you have?
  • Do you have a hot tub or humidifier at home?
  • Are you around pet birds or pigeons?

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam by listening to your lungs while you breathe by the use of stethoscope.

He may suggest some of these tests:

  • blood tests – to check o pinpoint a diagnosis,
  • imaging tests – chest x-ray to produce images of your lungs, this will only take a few minutes
  • CT scan for detailed cross-sectional images that will take less than 15 minutes,
  • spirometry that will measure the amount of air that you will exhale and inhale and how efficient your lungs transfer gases from the air into the bloodstream while doing exercises,
  • oximeter – by measuring the oxygen in your blood to see how well your lungs are working,
  • bronchoscopy – this is done by collecting samples from your lungs and to look at you airways, sometimes your doctor may flush a section of your lung with a saltwater solution to collect other materials and lung cells and this is called lavage,
  • surgical lung biopsy – to examine larger samples of tissue from several locations in your lungs.

5 Treatment

Treatment methods used for pneumonitis vary depending on its type.

Your doctor will suggest eliminating exposure to the allergen or chemical irritating your lungs if you have chemical pneumonitis or hypersensitivity.

Some of the treatments for severe pneumonitis:

  • corticosteroids – to suppress your immune system and to reduce the inflammation in your lungs but if you take this for too long here may be a risk of developing infections or osteoporosis which is the thinning of bones;
  • oxygen therapy – by the use of a plastic tubing with prongs that fits in your nostrils or a mask, if you have trouble breathing. Some may need it just at sleep or exercise but some may need it constantly.

6 Prevention

You can prevent pneumonitis by:

  • avoiding exposure to the cause such as ventilation and occupational hazards,
  • avoid smoking,
  • avoid crowds during flu season,
  • wash your hands regularly.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Some of the homeopathic remedies for pneumonitis include:

  • Aconite,
  • Ferrum phosphoricum,
  • Iodine,
  • Veratrum viride,
  • Bryonia,
  • Kali muriaticum,
  • Phosphorus,
  • Sanguinaria,
  • Chelidonium,
  • Antimonium tartaricum,
  • Kali carbonicum,
  • Sulphur.

These homeopathic remedies should be taken with professional advice.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

You’ll have to make lifestyle changes if you are diagnosed with pneumonitis so you can protect your health.

Like, if your job requires you to be exposed in substances that can irritate your lungs, ask your supervisor or doctor on ways on how to protect yourself such as wearing personal dust respirator.

Find a different hobby if it is the cause.

9 Risks and Complications

Some of the hobbies and occupations that carry higher risks of pneumonitis are:

  • bird handling – people who breed and poultry workers who are most of the time exposed to bird droppings and feathers;
  • farming – when they are exposed to pesticides and aerosolized mists or inhaling airborne particles from moldy hay that can be inhaled during harvests of hay and grain;
  • humidifiers and hot tubs – because of the moldy conditions and the bubbling action makes a mist that can be inhaled.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also cause pneumonitis. Lung damage can happen if pneumonitis is left untreated.

Pulmonary fibrosis can happen too if there is a chronic inflammation of the thin tissue lining each air sac become inflexible and this can also lead to respiratory failure, heart failure and death.