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In medicine, compliance and elasticity are different ways to describe how stretchy, springy or flexible something is. The more compliant the lungs are, the more they are able to stretch in response to a force, and the lower the compliance, the less they stretch in response. Lung diseases that impair compliance stop the lungs from expanding as easily so more force is required to get them to expand to a given volume. Two classes of lung disease cause decreased compliance: restrictive interstitial lung diseases and diseases associated with fluid in the lungs.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
In idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, normal lung tissues are replaced by fibrous scar tissue that does not expand like normal elastic fibers 1. The cause of this disease is unknown, and it tends to occur most in people ages 50 to 70. Symptoms include decreased exercise tolerance, shortness of breath, dry cough and possibly chest pain. A number of tests establish the diagnosis, including pulmonary function tests, which measure the force produced to inhale and exhale, imaging such as CT scans and biopsies of the lungs. There is presently no cure, but symptoms can be helped with drugs to suppress the immune system, oxygen and lung rehabilitation.
- In idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, normal lung tissues are replaced by fibrous scar tissue that does not expand like normal elastic fibers 1.
- A number of tests establish the diagnosis, including pulmonary function tests, which measure the force produced to inhale and exhale, imaging such as CT scans and biopsies of the lungs.
Breathing & Lung Problems
Pneumoconiosis is a disease caused by the long-term inhalation of dust or minerals, such as in mines; it is also called environmental lung disease. Examples of chemical dusts that cause this disease include asbestos, carbon, silica, coal and beryllium. The dusts settle in the lung, and nodules of scar tissue infiltrate these areas. People with the disease generally do not have symptoms, but in severe cases they may have shortness of breath and cough. Diagnosis is typically made by imaging by CT scan. There is no cure, so prevention is the best approach.
- Pneumoconiosis is a disease caused by the long-term inhalation of dust or minerals, such as in mines; it is also called environmental lung disease.
- People with the disease generally do not have symptoms, but in severe cases they may have shortness of breath and cough.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, is a syndrome in which fluids and protein fill the lungs, making it difficult to deliver oxygen to the blood. ARDS has many causes, including bad bacterial infections or viral infections, serious trauma, pancreatitis, smoke inhalation, near drowning, shock and others.cause:
- ARDS has many causes
- including bad bacterial infections or viral infections
- serious trauma
- smoke inhalation
- near drowning
It causes severe shortness of breath and labored breathing. Tests include imaging, blood tests of the gases such as carbon dioxide and oxygen in the lungs and ruling out heart problems as the cause of fluid in the lungs. Treatment involves mechanical ventilation with supplemental oxygen, fluid management and treatment of the underlying condition or conditions.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, is a syndrome in which fluids and protein fill the lungs, making it difficult to deliver oxygen to the blood.
- Tests include imaging, blood tests of the gases such as carbon dioxide and oxygen in the lungs and ruling out heart problems as the cause of fluid in the lungs.
What Is Apical Pleural Thickening?
Many other disease can restrict compliance of the lungs. Some of these include connective tissue diseases such as some forms of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, infections such as tuberculosis or other pneumonias and side effects of certain drugs such as the chemotherapeutic bleomycin.
Breathing & Lung Problems
What Is Apical Pleural Thickening?
What Causes Hardening of the Lungs?
What Are the Causes of Continuous Productive Coughing?
Causes of Low Blood Oxygen Levels
What Is BOOP Lung Treatment?
Causes of a Wheezing Cough with Phlegm
Long-Term Effects of Exercise on the Respiratory System
Ventilator Breathing Complications After Surgery
What Is the Function of the Lungs?
- National Institutes of Health: Medline: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
- "Postgraduate Medical Journal"; Interstitial lung disease: progress and problems; Bourke; August 2006
- Cleveland Clinic. Interstitial lung disease. Updated April 26, 2018.
- Choi W, Dauti S, Kim HJ, et al. Risk factors for interstitial lung disease: A 9-year nationwide population-based study. BMC Pulm Med. 2018;18, 96. doi:10.1186/s12890-018-0660-2
- Scallan J, Huxley VH, Korthuis RJ. Capillary fluid exchange: Regulation, functions, and pathology. Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences; 2010. Chapter 2, The Interstitium.
- Sauleda J, Núñez B, Sala E, Soriano JB. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: epidemiology, natural history, phenotypes. Med Sci (Basel). 2018;6(4):110. doi:10.3390/medsci6040110
- Meyer KC. Diagnosis and management of interstitial lung disease. Transl Respir Med. 2014;2:4. doi:10.1186/2213-0802-2-4
- American Lung Association. Interstitial lung disease (ILD).
- Sanford Health Care. Categories and types of interstitial lung diseases.
- American Lung Association. What is spirometry and why it is done? Updated February 19, 2020.
- Tonelli R, Cocconcelli E, Lanini B, et al. Effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with interstitial lung disease of different etiology: a multicenter prospective study. BMC Pulm Med. 2017;17(1):130. doi:10.1186/s12890-017-0476-5
- Voiriot G, Philippot Q, Elabbadi A, et al. Risks related to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in community-acquired pneumonia in adult and pediatric patients. J Clin Med. 2019;8(6):786. doi:10.3390/jcm8060786
- Collins BF, Raghu G. Antifibrotic therapy for fibrotic lung disease beyond idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Eur Respir Rev. 2019;28(154):195022. doi:10.1183/16000617.5022-2019
- Panagiotou M, Church AC, Johnson MK, et al. Pulmonary vascular and cardiac impairment in interstitial lung disease. Eur Respir Rev. 2017;26(143):160053. doi:10.1183/16000617.0053-2016
Dr. Matthew Fox graduated from the University of California with a Bachelor of Arts in molecular, cell and developmental biology and received a M.D. from the University of Virginia. He is a pathologist and has experience in internal medicine and cancer research.