Pneumonitis is a general term that refers to inflammation of lung tissue. Although pneumonia is technically a type of pneumonitis, most doctors are referring to other causes of lung inflammation when they use the term "pneumonitis" . Pneumonia is pneumonitis combined with consolidation and exudation due to infection.
Due to the number of factors that cause it, Pneumonitis is one of the leading causes of death in the world.
The most common symptom of pneumonitis is shortness of breath, which may be accompanied by a dry cough. If pneumonitis is undetected or left untreated, it is highly probable that the patient shall gradually develop chronic pneumonitis, which can result in scarring in the lungs. Other signs and symptoms of chronic pneumonitis include fatigue, loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss.
Pneumonitis occurs when an irritating substance causes the alveoli to become inflamed. The inflammation makes it difficult for oxygen to pass through the alveoli into the bloodstream. The disease can be caused by many factors, such as breathing in animal dander, exposure to feathers or bird excrement, aspiration inhaling small food particles, sepsis, inhaling chemicals, such as of spores of some species of mushroom or Sodium hydroxide and receiving radiation therapy to the chest. Other factors include exposure to airborne irritants, repeated exposure to some molds and bacteria, some types of cancer treatments and dozens of drugs can cause pneumonitis. Drugs that cause it include some antibiotics, several types of chemotherapy drugs, medications that keep regular heartbeat and an overdose of aspirin.
Some occupations and hobbies carry higher risks of pneumonitis, including many types of farming operations that include exposure of the workers to aerosolized mists and pesticides. Apart from that, bird handling is also considered to be a risk factor since the workers are often exposed to droppings, feathers and other materials that can cause pneumonitis. In addition to that, some chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy to the lungs can cause pneumonitis as well.
If the Pneumonitis goes unnoticed or if it is untreated, it can lead to irreversible lung damage. Normally, the air sacs within your lungs stretch and relax with each breath. Hence, chronic inflammation of the thin tissue lining each air sac can make the air sacs scar and become inflexible. This is called pulmonary fibrosis. In severe cases, pulmonary fibrosis can cause right heart failure, respiratory failure and death.
Other complications include severe acute or subacute flares may cause severe respiratory distress and can be life-threatening, recurrent pneumonia, Pneumothorax, pulmonary fibrosis, Cor pulmonale and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The best way to prevent developing Pneumonitis is to avoid exposure to its cause. For an example, control the occupational hazards, maintain the heating systems, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment.