Researchers from Vall d’ Hebron University Hospital have found that exposure to quilts and / or feather pillows is a major cause of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in half of the cases analyzed in a clinical study of 60 patients. This serious disease, which has a low survival rate, causes a progressive loss of respiratory capacity and is estimated to affect 10,000 people only in Spain, of which 2,000 are in Catalunya.
The Vall d’ Hebron Hospital reported in a statement that its researchers have conducted a study of 60 patients between 2004 and 2011, and found that one of the main causes of the disease is exposure to the comforters and feather pillows. Also, exposure to birds and fungi on persistent quantities can influence the development of the disease, a statement says.
In short , it is the disease called chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis, says the medical center, which is a reference worldwide for its work on respiratory disease.
The study, which has been published in the scientific journal The Lancet, ” radically changes ” the approach to be adopted in the study of disease as to determine the causes of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. A pulmonary history assessment must be performed to obtain a very precise clinical consideration, say scientists from Vall d’ Hebron.
This study includes visits to patients’ homes or place of work, to try to discover possible antigenic sources in ambient air. Feathers and isocyanates (chemicals that can be very irritating to the skin and eyes), are among some of the elements that can cause idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
The suspect material is analyzed in a research lab, where scientists get an antigenic extract used to determine if there are specific IgG antibodies in the extract appear in the serum of the patient (usually fungi or feathers) .
Simultaneously, scientists practiced a fungal culture of suspect material and, with this, the patient gets “a good starting point to begin a thorough study aimed to certify the cause of the disease.”
After performing the immunological tests, doctors also perform a bronchoscopy (a tube is inserted into the patient’s body to see the inside of the lungs and respiratory system) to study the secretions and, if deemed necessary, a criobiopsia is also done (extraction lung tissue).
Finally , a test is made with the antigen inhalation suspected of causing chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
Dr. Ferran Morell, author of the study, said in a memo that “the importance of this clinical study, conducted with patients of the Hospital, is showing that a systematic and in-depth assistance in addition to the use of the right techniques, a patient can make progress if affected by idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.”
Diagnosing this disease on time, says Morell, “it is imperative, to use the right techniques for detection of antibodies along with the causative substances and inhalation tests and to conduct an extraction of soluble substances, among other pieces of evidence.”
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a recognized disease since 1940, in which both lungs suffer progressive scarring. As a consequence of the disease, they lose elasticity, which makes it difficult the inspiration and the patient gradually loses the ability to breathe.
This disease has an incidence of between ten and twenty new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year. Lung transplantation is a solution for the sickest patients. In 2012, Vall d’ Hebron Hospital performed 66 procedures, a figure that places it among the first centers worldwide.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.