Respiratory problems

  1. a) Covid 19.

At the time of writing this module (June 2020), the Covid pandemic is still active and is undoubtably having a cataclysmic effect on all branches of the music industry and on musicians, one in five of whom feel that the pandemic is likely to make their ongoing career unviable. Venues and concert halls are shut down, and there are concerns about singing and even brass and woodwind playing in public. Social distancing at 1-2 metres in a large orchestra of over 100 players is all but impossible, and audience numbers are likely to be severely curtailed, again, due to social distancing, which will make many orchestras, venues and concerts unviable. Many musicians are self-employed and are currently facing great hardship.

  1. b) Pneumothorax.

Brass and woodwind players are at increased risk of pneumothorax due to the pressure of expiration needed to play their instruments.

  1. c) Pneumonitis (Bagpiper’s or saxophonist’s lung.)

This is a hypersensitivity pneumonitis caused by moulds and fungi in brass and woodwind instruments that have not been properly cleaned after playing. It has been seen in bagpipers, saxophonists, trumpeters, trombonists and clarinettists, and presents with breathlessness and cough. The condition increased in prominence after the death of a bagpiper in 2016 who had developed irreversible scarring in his lungs.


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