While US doctors are raising the alarm about lung scarring caused by vaping, medical experts in Scotland are warning about lung scarring caused by … feather duvets. A case study published Monday in BMJ Case Reports describes a 43-year-old non-smoker who suffered three months of “malaise, fatigue, and breathlessness” before being diagnosed with the very real condition of “feather duvet lung.” “Going upstairs to bed was a 30-minute activity as I could only manage two stairs at a time and then needed to sit and rest,” said the patient, initially diagnosed with a lower respiratory tract infection, per the Guardian. As his condition worsened, a doctor ordered a CT scan that showed severe inflammation in the lungs owing to an allergic reaction.
It was then doctors learned the man had recently started sleeping on feather bedding, and they concluded that dust from the feathers triggered a form of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Tests later showed the patient “had unusually high antibodies towards particular proteins from birds,” per the Guardian. “I’m sure it happens much more than we realize,” Owen Dempsey of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, a co-author of the report, tells Live Science, describing variations of the condition, including farmer’s lung (triggered by dust from crops) and wood-worker’s lung (triggered by sawdust). While irreversible lung scarring is possible, the patient, given steroids, was fully recovered a year after tossing out the duvet, per a release. Still, doctors say it’s important to “take really detailed histories” of patients to avoid improper diagnoses. (Read more allergic reaction stories.)