Doctors warn of ‘bagpipe lung’

Doctors have warned that bagpipes and other wind instruments should be cleaned regularly

Doctors have warned that bagpipes and other wind instruments should be cleaned regularly

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The wider Banbridge area’s legions of pipers are among the many taking stock after a death in England prompted a medical warning over possible lung damage.

The warning to wind instrument players follows news that a bagpipes player is believed to have died from a reaction to mouldy pipes.

Doctors,writing in the journal Thorax, have said instruments should be cleaned regularly to avoid “bagpipe lung”.

Dr Jenny King, a member of the team at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester that treated the piper who died, told the BBC that if caught early, similar problems could be treated with a good prognosis.

The 61-year-old patient described in the journal practised every day and had been ill for a number of years. Doctors realised the bagpipes might have been the cause of the problems when he travelled abroad for a few months without his instrument and his condition improved.

He is thought to have developed a bad reaction to mould and fungi that was found to have developed inside the moist interior of his bagpipes when they were checked in a lab.

Inhaling pathogens had caused inflammation and eventually led to irreversible scarring.

Dr King said: “Sadly, in his case, the damage was fatal. If you can diagnose these problems early and remove the trigger then they can be treated and the prognosis is really good.”

Musicians are urged to clean their instruments regularly and consider whether a cough or any breathlessness could be linked to their practice.