Lung Infections and Musical Instruments
The latest issue of the journal, CHEST, has an article about a clarinet and saxophone player with Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA.) It caught my eye because I have spoken to two people with bronchiectasis who are brass and woodwind musicians.
I suggest if you play an instrument by putting it in your mouth, and currently have or have had bacteria and fungal lung infections, you might check out your sterilizing options.
As always, be sure to mention your concerns to your medical team.
Linda Esposito, MPH
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That is an interesting question to ponder. I looked for other information, studies, etc, and what I found surprised.
One of the most infection-prone group of lung patients is young people with Cystic Fibrosis. Much to my surprise, rather than recommending against playing wind instruments, several small studies have encouraged kids to play them – to slow the decline in lung capacity. They tracked players and non-players for 6 months, and found the players had fewer infections.
I have often wondered about the cleanliness of mouthpieces – stowed in pockets, dropped on the floor, sometimes shared… Several of my siblings and I played wind and brass instruments. My Mom was a bit of a germophobe – way back in the 50's it was separate bathroom cups for all 8 of us, never sharing pop bottles, etc. She was adamant that we never lend or borrow our mouthpieces or reeds. About once a week they all went into hot soapy dishwater for a good soak and wash.
Unfortunately, when I watch my most of my musician friends, I never see that level of hygiene – horns get passed around, reeds get handed from one to another – and I just think – Yuk! So the first thing I would say to any musician is – treat your mouthpiece like your nebulizer & keep it clean. When you use your cleaning tools, make sure you clean those too – they work better anyway when they're not stiff and gross.
So Laura, you are right, it is certainly a point to ponder. But like most other things in this lung life, we can probably adapt.
@sueinmn Yes I feel that it would be good just like singing is, just sterilise the parts. Heather