Restrictive Lung Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

restrictive lung disease icd 10

Restrictive Lung Disease is a kind of respiratory disease that restricts the expansion of the lungs, causing reduced ventilation of oxygen in the lungs. This causes trouble to breathe easily, with other symptoms like suffocation or shortness of breath.


Some experts reduced Restrictive Lung Disease is to two categories: Intrinsic Lung Diseases (which affects the insides of the lungs) and Extrinsic Lung Diseases (that affects the outer layers of the lungs).

It is an incurable disease affecting mostly the youth and elders. However, proper diagnosis and treatment at the right time may alleviate the symptoms to an acceptable level.

People with restrictive lung disease cannot fill their lungs with air as much as they need to because of lower total lung capacity; which is due to the illness preventing the lungs from expanding to suck air.

These diseases are usually the result of a condition that causes stiffness in the lungs.

In other cases, stiffness occurs in the chest wall, muscles weaken, and even damaged nerves can cause restriction of lung expansion.

Restrictive lung disease refers to a group of thoracic deformities that result in a weak coupling between the respiratory muscles and the rib cage.

In general, these disorders are characterized by a restrictive defect and have the potential to cause hypercapnic respiratory failure in the long term.

The most common thoracic alteration that causes respiratory failure is thoracoplasty. Scoliosis and kyphoscoliosis can also cause severe respiratory failure. The symptoms of respiratory failure are as follows:

  • Dyspnea of effort
  • Peripheral edema
  • Orthopnea
  • Morning Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Loss of appetite


The symptoms of the Restrictive Lung Disease are:

  • Shortness of breath (SOB)
  • A dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Respiratory tract infections


It is important to get diagnosed at the right time and efficiently, to start appropriate treatment. The following are the diagnostic test for Restrictive Lung Disease:

  • Pulmonary function test
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Pulse Oximetry
  • CAT scans

The main symptoms of the disease are both a cough and shortness of breath. This condition also features SOB, also known as dyspnea.

The patient who suffers from SOB experiences unpleasant sensations in the respiratory tract.

In the diagnosis of this lung disease, the patient’s FEV1 / FVC ratio is checked. FEV1 refers to the amount of air a person’s lungs can blow for one second.

FVC is the value that indicates the total air in the lungs of a person after a complete inspiration. The FEV1 / FVC ratio in patients with this disease is higher than the average value.

The doctors also check the total lung capacity and residual volume of the lungs. Total lung capacity is the volume of air that is contained in the lungs after the maximum amount is inhaled.

A certain amount of air remains in the lungs as a residue when the person exhales. This exhaled air is called “waste air.”

Patients diagnosed with this disease show an overall decrease in average values of residual volume and total lung capacity.

To confirm if a patient suffers from this disease the total lung capacity should be less than 80% of its standard value.


The causes of Restrictive Lung Diseases can be precisely known depending upon the two broadly specified categories: intrinsic and extrinsic lung diseases.

Exposure to asbestos, which results in asbestosis, is one of the causes for the condition.

Asbestos not only causes restrictive lung disease but is also responsible for the contraction of different types of lung cancers.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another cause of fibrosis which results in restrictive lung disease.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a lung disease, which can lead to the development of fibrosis. It is a disease that causes inflammation of the alveoli in the lungs. The alveoli are small sacs of air in the lungs.

A patient’s hypersensitivity to organic dust can cause inflammation of the lungs. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) can cause the patient to contract this disease.

In ARDS, the patient suffers from inflammation of the tissues of the lung parenchyma and is the result of many direct and indirect causes, such as lung injury.

In case of intrinsic disease, it may be caused due to Sarcoidosis, Pneumoconiosis, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or as a result of other diseases like cancer or rheumatoid arthritis.

On the other hand, extrinsic lung diseases may be the result of Scoliosis, non-muscular diseases, extrinsic asthma, obesity and others.


Since there is no cure available for most of the Restrictive Lung Diseases, the goal of doctors is to suppress, manage and prevent them.

The treatment procedure depends on the diagnosis factor. Getting a thorough examination, knowing your family medical history and specific required tests might help doctors in understanding the underlying cause of the disease, and they can work accordingly.

A few basic approaches are:

  • Oxygen Therapy
  • Medication
  • Inhalers
  • Lung Transplant (in extreme cases)

The lungs have a characteristic property called lung distensibility, which facilitates their expansion and contraction.

Restrictive lung disease directly impacts the capacity of lung distensibility. This condition causes lungs to become stiff which is why they can’t expand properly.

The visible symptoms of the disease are due to the problem in lung compliance. However, the underlying cause of the disease is pulmonary fibrosis. In lung fibrosis, scars form in the lungs’ tissues.

The scars eventually extend to become a fibrotic mass. Because of these scars, the lungs suffer deterioration and, finally, can be seen as a honeycomb. With fibrotic tissues, the organ loses its elasticity.

The stiffness in the tissues increases and their normal functioning is hampered. Its ability to release oxygen in the blood steadily decreases.

The specific therapies or treatments for this lung disorder are still in development. The effects of the methods used for the treatment of the disease are not long-lasting.

The origin of the disease is not well understood, and there may be possibilities for misdiagnosis.

However, some of the treatments used for the disease includes providing supplemental oxygen. Attempts were made to treat patients with colchicine. But the procedure was not fruitful.

Finally, it would be appropriate to say that when this lung disease results from fibrosis, it does not have adequate treatment measures. Prevention is the best “treatment” for this disease.