ABC Medical Center > Neumonitis

What is Neumonitis?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is a non-infectious respiratory condition in which the lungs become temporarily or permanently inflamed, its main cause is exposure to various irritating factors in the environment. It differs from pneumonia because this inflammation occurs in the alveoli, while in pneumonitis it occurs around them.

In general, pneumonitis is not contagious, only if viruses and bacteria of the upper respiratory tract cause it. When these germs are in a person’s mouth or nose, they can spread the disease through coughing and sneezing.

The causes vary, but the most common are:

  • Food or liquids present at home or work.
  • Exposure to feathers or bird droppings.
  • Intake of certain antibiotics or medicines to treat cancer or heart problems.
  • Radiation for cancer treatments.
  • Mold, virus, or bacteria.
  • Chemicals such as pesticides or cleaning products.

Various irritants (from airborne mold to chemotherapy drugs) are associated with pneumonitis, but most of the time the specific substance causing the inflammation is not identified.

According to the speed in which it develops, it is classified into:

  • Acute.
  • Subacute.
  • Chronic.

Signs and symptoms Neumonitis

Symptoms vary depending on the person, but the most common include:

  • Noises or wheezing when breathing.
  • Lack of mental clarity. 
  • Flu or recurrent respiratory infections. 
  • Dry cough.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Pain, stiffness, or irritation in the throat or chest.
  • Sudden headache.
  • Fever, chills, and muscle aches.
  • Nasal congestion and watery eyes.
  • Blue lips or fingernails.
  • Dizziness and fainting. 
  • Weight loss.

When pneumonitis is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, it seriously affects the lungs, producing fibrosis, which is a scarring of the lung tissue, which causes stiffness and dryness in the lungs, seriously hindering breathing and causing heart and respiratory failure, which can be fatal. 

Diagnosis and treatment Neumonitis

If you have these symptoms or any other that makes it difficult for you to breathe, it is essential that you see your doctor, who, in addition to performing a physical examination and analyzing your medical history, will request laboratory tests that allow him or her to detect signs of an allergic reaction, X-rays or CT scans to find out if you have an infection, fluid in your lungs, or pulmonary fibrosis. 

If deemed necessary, he or she will also require specialized pulmonary function tests that indicate how much oxygen your body is receiving, such as spirometry, a bronchoscopy to look at your airways, and if necessary, take a lung tissue biopsy. 

In some cases, it may be necessary to analyze larger tissue samples from various parts of the lungs that are not accessible by bronchoscopy, thus requiring a surgical procedure to obtain them.

Treatment consists of avoiding irritants and reducing inflammation by providing oxygen, if required, and taking corticosteroids to help reduce coughing and open the airways. You may also require antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.

You can help speed up your recovery by following all of your doctor’s recommendations, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting adequate rest.

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • Acosta TJ, Carrión MR, Camacho PC, et al. Neumonitis intersticial descamativa en el paciente pediátrico. Rev Cubana Pediatr. 2017;89(2):224-233.
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