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Hamman-Rich Syndrome: Facts, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Darlene Oakley HERWriter
 
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What is Hamman-Rich Syndrome

Hamman-Rich Syndrome is also known as acute interstitial pneumonia. It is an uncommon type of pneumonia for which researchers have not yet found a cause (idiopathic). It affects otherwise healthy individuals. The underlying condition may worsen without symptoms appearing for a long period of time, but when the symptoms do manifest they come on very suddenly and "acutely".

The condition received its name from the doctors who discovered the disease in 1939, Drs. Hamman and Rich.

Acute interstitial pneumonia has similar symptoms to acute respiratory distress syndrome, and may be misdiagnosed as such.

Pneumonia results when tissues of the lungs become inflamed in reaction to infection. Interstitial pneumonia, by comparison, is a long-term condition that affects the connective tissue of the lungs. The inflammation is caused by the build up of white blood cells and plasma in the alveoli (the tiny sac that facilitate the carbon dioxide/oxygen exchange in the bloodstream). With interstitial pneumonia, the inflammation also extends into the bronchioles - small airways that branch off into the lungs.

If the inflammation lasts long enough, the fluid hardens into scar tissue (fibrosis). If there is enough scar tissue, over time alveoli will be destroyed and the space filled with cysts. Over time, the bronchi and the walls of the bronchi widen, or are destroyed resulting in the lungs shrinking.

Sixty percent of those with acute interstitial pneumonia die within six months of the appearance of symptoms.

Symptoms of Hamman-Rich Syndrome

As stated earlier, symptoms of Hamman-Rich Syndrome or acute interstitial pneumonia are similar to those observed in acute respiratory distress syndrome, which are:

- shortness of breath
- rapid, shallow breathing
- crackling or wheezing sounds in the lungs
- cyanosis (blue tinge) to the skin
- heart and brain function issues (rapid heart rate, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness) because of long-term reduced oxygen supply

Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Interstitial Pneumonia

Add a Comment67 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I think your uncle is my very close friend I have not been down to see him yet do to a cold that I have but ikeep in touch w the family every day. If this is the same guy we both know how string this man is and I have very strong faith in his recovery.

June 29, 2013 - 9:35am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

The main problem with Hammen-syndrome is that we do not know what causes it. It seems to always attack people that are otherwise healthy. I had this disease in 2011. As far as I know, the treatment is to induce a coma and put you on steroids. It is up to the person after that.

June 28, 2013 - 6:12am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

My uncle has been diagnosed with Hamman-Rich today 7/25/13. He had been complaining of joint pain for months and at first he was told he had Lyme disease but the blood test did not support that. He was admitted to the hospital over a week ago because he couldn't breathe- lungs were filled with fluid when they did an ultrasound and he couldn't maintain O2 so was put on oxygen for that. They induced a coma Tuesday night for a lung biopsy which we got the results today. He's on ventilator now and they also paralyzed him- something to do with muscles twitching? I don't have all the details I am in NC and my mom is there with him in upstate NY.. He is 40yrs old and a contractor so they had been telling us before HR diagnosis that they suspected it was an environmental cause but we were not expecting this condition.. They have already been trying corticosteroids, the only other treatment option I could find through research is lung transplant, there is not much information out there

June 27, 2013 - 5:54pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Date should be 6/25 not 7/25. Is there any research on any natural sources that can aid in the lungs clearing out the fluid so the condition can get better? Maybe any supplemental herbs or homeopathic treatments that could assist.. I know there is not much known on interactions of herbs with certain medications but sometimes Complimentary and Alternative medicines combined with conventional treatments can be beneficial for conditions with no cure.

June 27, 2013 - 6:01pm
Darlene Oakley HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I haven't researched that side of things. There's very little known about the disease in the first place and doctors treat it in the only way they know how to treat lung issues. Might be worth looking at what asthmatics use (such as alfalfa root), but there isn't anything definite about what works and what doesn't in these kinds of cases.

July 3, 2013 - 5:19pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I was diagnosed with Acute Interstitial Pneumonitis 3 weeks ago after I was admitted to the ICU through the ER. I ended up there for 8 days. I was suffering from a 4 month long cough along with progressively worse breathing. By the time I got to the ER I was really struggling to get a good breath. 3 days later they did a Bronch and took a small biopsy of my lung which showed up no Fungus or Bacteria but the above mentioned disease. I am only 34 years old and they have no clue where I got it from. I am an otherwise healthy woman. I am now at home and have some difficulties, but they were really aggressive with medication in the hospital and they are doing the same since I have come home. I go to the pulmonologist every 6 weeks and just had a PFT and a 6MWT yesterday to see how I am responding to the medications. (steroids and Cortosteriods) I have two young children who need their mom and I am super scared of what could possibly happen in the next few months/years. I have had no luck finding anyone my age with the disease to see what treatments they have done and how they have progressed. I'm hoping that this website can help link me to someone who can help or be of support.

May 23, 2013 - 7:14am
Darlene Oakley HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for sharing your story.

I am by no means a medical expert on this condition. Wisconsonite has also posted about her experiences and may be of more help than I can be.So i would follow-up with MayoClinic and the other institutions as she has suggested.

From what I can remember of my research, doctors generally don't know how patients get it or why, and has baffled them as to how it impacts otherwise healthy people. It sounds like even though the condition hasn't completely cleared, yet, you are stable and hopefully your recent test results will show that you're making progress.

I'm sorry I can't be of much more direct help, but please keep as posted as you're able.

May 23, 2013 - 1:01pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Anonymous,
Contact Mayo Clinic in MN if you havent already! Get there ASAP they have speialist in this lung condition.
UW Wisconsin Madison and John Hopkins also are best options.
Wisconsinite

May 23, 2013 - 9:08am
Wisconsinite

My father in law passed away April 19
He asked to be removed from the respirator at 1pm

He didn't want the decision to be take off left to us hismloved ones.
Brave man.
We will miss him.

Wisconsinite

May 7, 2013 - 4:56am
Darlene Oakley HERWriter (reply to Wisconsinite)

Thank you for letting us know.

Our hugs and prayers are with you and your family.

May 8, 2013 - 8:13am
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