Certain allergies can result in a lung condition known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This makes it difficult for patients to breathe and, if left untreated, can cause irreversible damage to the lungs. At Silver Falls Dermatology, our providers in Washington and Oregon help patients find relief from their symptoms.
What is Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis?
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a lung disease which causes inflammation of the lung tissue, resulting in difficulty breathing. Patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis may also experience:
- Chest tightening
- Shortness of breath
Those with long-term hypersensitivity pneumonitis may also experience chronic cough or weight loss. In some cases, hypersensitivity pneumonitis can result in permanent scarring of lung tissue, a condition known as pulmonary fibrosis.
What Causes Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis?
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is caused by exposure to specific airborne environmental allergens or contaminants such as bacteria. Some examples of allergens which may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis include bird feathers and droppings, household mold or chemicals and irritants found in certain work environments. For this reason, working in specific industries or occupations may increase risk of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Examples include animal handling, veterinary medicine, farming, grain or flour processing, lumber industry occupations, paper manufacturing, plastic manufacturing or painting.
Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis Treatment Options
Patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis should avoid their allergens as much as possible. For some patients, this means that allergy testing may be necessary. Those who can not completely avoid their allergens may be advised to adopt habits such as wearing an air-purifying respirator while at work.
Corticosteroids are a common treatment for hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Your provider may also recommend immunosuppressive medications, bronchodilators, or oxygen treatments.