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What is Bronchiolitis Obliterans? – Symptoms of Bronchiolitis Obliterans, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Bronchiolitis obliterans is a life threatening condition of non-reversible obstructive lung disease. In this condition, bronchioles are narrowed and compressed by inflammation or fibrosis (scar tissue). Bronchiolitis obliterans is sometimes referred to severe form of pediatric bronchiolitis which is caused by adenovirus.

Bronchiolitis obliterans is triggered by certain infections, drug reactions and no obvious reason. Often, condition progresses to cause serious respiratory disorders or even death.

Symptoms of Bronchiolitis Obliterans:

Following are some symptoms of bronchiolitis obliterans:

  • Excessive shortness of breathing
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Tiredness
  • Low levels of oxygen in blood
  • Wheezing

Symptoms may start gradually, while severe signs and symptoms of condition occur suddenly.

Causes of Bronchiolitis Obliterans:

Causes include:

  • Collagen vascular disease
  • Viral infections like adenovirus, cytomegalovirus, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus
  • Drug reaction
  • Aspiration
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • Exposure to toxic substances like sulfur dioxide, ammonia, thionyl chloride, hydrogen fluoride, phosgene, hydrogen bromide, mustard gas, hydrogen chloride, ozone, hydrogen chloride, polyamide-amine dyes, methyl isocyanate, hydrogen sulfide, diacetyl and nitrogen dioxide
  • Complications of prematurity such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain emergency medications

Some times, the condition is idiopathic, that is, the cause is not known.

Diagnosis for Bronchiolitis Obliterans:

This is often misdiagnosed as bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma or emphysema.
Diagnosis include:

  • Usually diffusing capacity of lung test (DLCO) is normal.
  • Chest X-rays
  • Lung Volume Tests
  • Spirometry test shows restriction and obstructions in the airways. FEV1/FVC <75%
  • Computed Tomography scans of chest at full inspiration and expiration reveals the hetrogeneous air trapping on expiratory view, haziness and also thickened walls of airways.
  • Lung biopsies reveals the evidence of constrictive bronchiolitis obliterans.

Treatment for Bronchiolitis Obliterans:

This condition is irreversible and lung transplantation is required for severe cases. To prevent bronchiolitis obliterans depends on the early detection of the disease. Spirometry results are helpful in detecting the disease.

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