For three months, a 43-year-old man in Scotland felt sick and tired, often experiencing shortness of breath without help. He sought medical attention and was later diagnosed with a lower respiratory tract infection. Initially, the symptoms heal – breathing becomes a little easier and he feels less tired. But a month later, his health declined. Further analysis leads to the diagnosis of an unusual, but very real, condition.
When feeling unwell, fatigue and shortness of breath returned, the man, who was not named in the report published Monday in the BMJ Case Report, was forced to take 14 days off work. At this point, he even had difficulty breathing when walking between rooms in his house, the authors wrote.
PALMS 'VELVETY' WOMAN TOWARDS DIAGNOSIS
Confused, the doctor who initially treated him at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary called one of the hospital's pulmonologists, Dr. Owen Dempsey, who reviewed the patient's history and called her. On the phone, "the patient sounds tachypnoeic," or breathes quickly, according to the report.
Dempsey went on to ask the man questions, such as whether he had a pet (he had, dogs and cats), and if he had fungi (he, there were presents in the bathroom, above the shower and the window)). But when asked if he was hit by a bird, or slept in a feather, the man said yes to the latter. Around the time he fell ill, the patient and his wife had switched from synthetic blankets to feather covers and feather pillows, according to the report.
The man returned to the hospital for further testing. More detailed CT scans show inflamed lungs, while blood tests show he has developed antibodies to dust from goose or duck feathers, which are often used in down products such as blankets, pillows, winter coats and more.
The patient is then diagnosed with "lung duvet fur," a condition associated with hypersensitive pneumonitis, a disease "in which your lungs become inflamed as an allergic reaction to dust, mold, fungus or inhaled chemicals," according to the American Lung Association.
The man was prescribed steroids and replaced his new bed with a set of hypoallergenic ingredients.
"The symptoms improve quickly in the first month, even before starting oral corticosteroids," the doctors wrote in the report. Six months later, the man felt "very healthy."
Patient cases serve as important reminders for doctors to take "very detailed history" of the people they care for, Dempsey told Live Science.
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"That way they can uncover things in the environment that trigger lung disease," he added, noting the case did not mean people who had dropped products had to eliminate them.
But, Dempsey added to The New York Times, "if you experience shortness of breath or cough and don't recover within a few weeks after buying a few feather beds, you should mention it to your doctor."