Wind musicians advised to keep instruments clean to avoid lung damage
Doctors in the UK have described a rare instance of a lung condition that they believe could be linked to playing the bagpipes.
A paper, published in the journal, Thorax, describes a case where a man experienced severe damage to his lungs as a result of being exposed to harmful germs that built up inside his bagpipes while playing them.
The man, who played his bagpipes daily, had a cough and experienced breathlessness for 7 years. After his bagpipes were tested in a laboratory, scientists found that the instrument contained types of mould and fungi that are known to cause lung problems such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP). The damage that occurred to the man's lungs was irreversible and he died after his condition got worse.
The doctors are referring to this instance of HP as “bagpipe lung”.
While this case was extremely rare, there have been other records of people who play wind instruments experiencing similar problems with their lungs.
Doctors are therefore urging people that play wind instruments to clean them thoroughly in order to reduce any potentially harmful substances that may build up over time.