Study: “Bagpipe lung” can be deadly for players of wind instruments

Posted on: August 24, 2016

“By the time the man arrived at the lung disease clinic in Manchester, England, it was almost too late,” writes Michael Miller in Tuesday’s (8/23) Washington Post. “It was April 2014 and the 61-year-old had spent the past seven years finding it harder and harder to breathe…. He could now barely walk 20 meters…. Doctors were stumped…. The man died on Oct. 10, 2014. An autopsy didn’t explain much…. Now … doctors say they have solved the medical mystery. In a report published Monday in the medical journal Thorax … researchers coined a new term for the man’s condition. ‘Bagpipe lung.’ … Doctors initially [had] overlooked his daily hobby: playing the bagpipes. Tests conducted on the man’s bagpipes found a slew of fungi and yeast living inside the musical instrument…. There was pink yeast on the instrument’s mouthpiece as well as fungi on the neck, chanter, chanter reed, chanter reed protector, bass drome and tenor drome, researchers found…. Every time he played his instrument, he was inhaling a mixture of mold that caused his illness…. The study noted similar illnesses befalling saxophone and trombone players…. ‘This case highlights the importance of a careful clinical history including hobbies,’ researchers wrote…. Wind instrument players, meanwhile, need to regularly clean their instruments.”

Posted August 24, 2016