Management of dyspnea in interstitial lung disease

Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2010 Jun;4(2):69-75. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e3283392b51.


Purpose of review: Dyspnea is the most common symptom in interstitial lung disease, yet little is known about its management. This review summarizes the available evidence for the treatment of dyspnea in interstitial lung disease.

Recent findings: The management of dyspnea in interstitial lung disease remains a challenge, with few effective therapies. Limited evidence suggests that pulmonary rehabilitation is an effective treatment of dyspnea. In patients with interstitial lung disease, dyspnea severity is associated with measures of ventilatory restriction, gas exchange, functional status, mental health, and some comorbid diseases. Treatment directed toward these modifiable correlates of dyspnea might be effective in dyspnea management; however, the outcome of this strategy has not been adequately studied.

Summary: Studies support pulmonary rehabilitation as an effective treatment for dyspnea in interstitial lung disease and pulmonary rehabilitation should be considered in all dyspneic patients. Several investigational agents have been developed and evaluated for potential use in fibrotic interstitial lung disease; however, these agents have not been shown to improve dyspnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Dyspnea / therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / complications
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Quality of Life