September 09, 2010

New Reason for Chronic Cough... Playing the Trombone!

NPR published a story on Sept 8, 2010 regarding a trombone player whose chronic cough for over 15 years was ultimately found to be due to a mold called fusarium as well as mycobacterium (cousin to TB) found growing inside his trombone. Each time he inhaled while playing the trombone, these germs inside his trombone was causing an allergic reaction, which led to hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a severe inflammation of the lungs.

The doctor who figured out the problem went on to investigate other wind/brass instruments of other players and found them all contaminated with germs. His results have been published in the journal Chest.

Though the NPR story was on this particular trombone player (whose cough improved once he started cleaning his instrument regularly), the problem is NOT new...

Here's a report on a saxophone player.

There is also this one company called MaestroMD that claims to help with musical instrument sterilization.

This issue was so concerning in Massachusetts, that a law is being passed to require sterilization of musical instruments in schools! Read more here.

I even wrote a blog article about this problem back in January 7, 2010.

In any case, how does the trombone player featured in the NPR story now clean his instrument? He uses a rod with a cloth and alcohol — rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol which he pours down into his instrument after playing.

Trombone Player's Lung: A Probable New Cause of Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. Chest. 2010 Sep;138(3):754-6.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis Due to Molds in a Saxophone Player. CHEST September 2010 vol. 138 no. 3 724-726.

A microbiological survey into the presence of clnically significant bacteria in the mouthpieces and internal surfaces of woodwind and brass musical instruments.

Horn with nasty microbes.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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