Treating hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) involves both identifying and removing the antigen that's causing the condition, and taking anti-inflammatory medication.
If the inhaled antigen can be recognized and removed, the lung inflammation in acute HP is often reversible. If you have chronic HP, however, the inflammation may persist even when the antigen is removed. If the antigen can't be identified, you may need to change your work or home environment, if possible.
If you don't improve or continue to worsen, we may recommend anti-inflammatory medications. Prednisone is the mainstay of medication therapy and is often very effective. If you require long-term medication or don't tolerate prednisone, you may need to take an alternative medication, such as azathioprine, mycophenolate or cyclophosphamide.
In addition to medications and removal of the antigen, pulmonary rehabilitation — a structured exercise and educational program designed for patients with chronic lung disease — is an important and effective treatment for patients with chronic HP.
We will also need to pay careful attention to common medical problems associated with HP, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease and pulmonary hypertension. Lastly, lung transplant may be an effective treatment option for some patients.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.