Have you ever heard of “Bagpipe Lung”? You probably haven’t; nor have most people. If you play a wind instrument though, you should understand what it is… it could mean your health and even your life.
Bagpipe lung comes about when the bacteria that grows inside a wind instrument is inhaled into the lungs and results in hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Most people’s immune system is able to properly handled the bacteria and allergens that they inhale but others are hypersensitive (hence the name of the disease) and the result can be a damaged respiratory system or even death. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is most often associated with mold or birds but can also come from wind instruments.
The disease was first diagnosed in a bagpipe player, which of course, is how we got the name of the disease. Bagpipes, because of the complexity of the instrument and the various materials involved, are more prone to bacteria but no wind instrument is exempt.
So how do you protect yourself if you play a wind instrument? Clean the instrument properly after each use and allow it to drip dry is really the best course of action.
Aside from that, listen to your body. If you start getting a persistent dry cough, get tested and let your doctor know that you play a wind instrument. You might even teach them something about hypersensitivity pneumonitis.