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Interstitial Lung Disease: Medications

Interstitial lung disease is a group of conditions with inflammation and scarring around the tiny air sacs or alveoli in the lungs. The changes make it hard to take in oxygen. Often the cause is unknown. This is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Known causes are conditions like sarcoidosis and rheumatoid arthritis. You can also get if from breathing in certain substances like mold fungus or asbestos. Some medications and radiation treatments can also cause interstitial lung disease.

Medications may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation and prevent further scarring. If you have questions or concerns with any of your medications, be sure to tell your health care provider. 

Man holding daily pill box with pills.

Take all medications as instructed by your health care provider. If you have any questions, you can also ask your pharmacist.


Medications that reduce inflammation or the immune system's reaction may be prescribed for some people with interstitial lung disease. But, they don't work for everyone. In fact, newer therapies that lessen fibrosis, or scarring, are currently in use and under study. Even though they aren't considered as effective as in the past, these anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications may be prescribed:

  • Prednisone

  • Azathioprine (Imuran)

  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

 More than one of these medications may be prescribed together. They may have serious side effects. Talk with your health care provider about what to expect if they are prescribed for you.

Taking Medications

To prevent problems with your medications, try the following:

  • Take your medication at the same time each day as instructed. Make it a habit.

  • Don’t run out of medication. Order more while you still have at least a week’s supply left, more, if you order by mail.

  • Remember to take your medications with you when you travel. If you have to check luggage, make sure you keep your medications with you.

  • Have a list of all of your medications. This also includes over-the-counter medications.

    • Show the list to all of your health care providers and your pharmacist.

    • Include the name of the medication, dose, and when you take it, and the reason for taking it.

    • Update your list if your medications change.

    • Keep a copy with you in your wallet or purse.

  • Get all of your medications at the same drug store or pharmacy, if possible,

  • Get a pill organizer with compartments marked with the days of the week and the times of the day. Fill it once a week and keep it in a place where you will be reminded to take your medication. If you need help organizing your medication, as a family member or friend.

  • If you have trouble paying for your medications, talk with your health care provider. He or she may be able to prescribe different, less expensive medications. And, he or she may have free samples.


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