Graphic showing health of lungs, severity of scleroderma and age of person


It depends. Scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease (ILD) affects everyone differently. Most people get worse a few years after being diagnosed, but a few get worse within 1 year.

The main ways that scleroderma-related ILD affects people are:

  • Makes it hard to breathe
  • Makes you tired
  • Gives you a cough

Most people don’t notice changes to any of these things at first and then notice them getting worse after a few years. A few people may get worse within 1 year of being diagnosed. Some things that effect how fast your ILD may get worse are:

  • How healthy your lungs are - The worse off your lungs are, the faster your condition might get worse. Doctors can see how healthy your lungs are with a couple of easy breathing tests.
  • How old you are when you’re diagnosed - People older than 60 are at higher risk of faster changes in their health. If you have scleroderma-related ILD and are over 60 years old, it’s a good idea to have more frequent doctor visits.
  • How bad your scleroderma is - The worse your scleroderma is, the more likely it is that your ILD will get worse.

Some medications can help stop your ILD from getting worse. These treatments can help with symptoms like having a hard time breathing.

ILD can develop early in people with scleroderma. Talk to your doctor about testing for ILD. This can help catch it earlier.


It usually takes a few years to get more severe, but how long it takes to get worse can be diverse.