May also be called: Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis; HP; Extrinsic Allergic
Alveolitis; Bird Fancier's Lung; Farmer's Lung; Hot Tub Lung
Pneumonitis (noo-muh-NY-tus) is a general term for inflammation of the lungs.
More to Know
When someone has pneumonitis, it means that tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli
have become irritated and swollen. Pneumonia (a
type of lung infection) is a form of pneumonitis; however, when doctors use the term
"pneumonitis," they usually mean an illness that's caused by something a
person has inhaled. This can lead to shortness of breath, a dry cough, and other
Over time, untreated pneumonitis can lead to lung damage and a condition called
pulmonary fibrosis, which can be life-threatening.
Sometimes, the cause of pneumonitis is obvious, but in many cases, it's never
found. Radiation treatments
and certain drugs can cause pneumonitis; more commonly, people get it from inhaling
airborne dust containing certain types of fungus
or molds. This is called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It usually
affects people who spend a lot of time around birds and farm workers who
are exposed to dust from moldy hay and grain. For this reason, hypersensitivity pneumonitis
is sometimes called "bird fancier's lung" or "farmer's lung."
Treatment involves identifying the cause when possible and avoiding it. In chronic
cases (those that go on for a long time), doctors may prescribe medicines to reduce
inflammation in the lungs or fight infections.
Keep in Mind
In most cases, pneumonitis will clear up on its own if the cause can be identified
and successfully avoided. Because long-term inflammation of the alveoli can lead to
irreversible lung damage, it's important to talk to a doctor if anyone in your
family has pneumonitis symptoms.
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