Pulmonary eosinophilia

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Pulmonary eosinophilia

Question

What is pulmonary eosinophilia?

Kathy
Colorado

Answer

Pulmonary eosinophilia — also called Loffler's syndrome or pulmonary infiltrates with eosinophilia — is inflammation in one or more areas of the lungs likely due to an allergic reaction. In many cases, the cause of pulmonary eosinophilia can't be determined. But it may be due to certain medications, such as aspirin or some antibiotics. Rarely, it may be caused by a parasitic infection.

Pulmonary eosinophilia usually isn't serious. The main sign of this condition is a persistent cough. A doctor may make a diagnosis of pulmonary eosinophilia based on:

  • Chest X-rays showing abnormal shadows (infiltrates) in the lungs, resembling pneumonia.
  • Blood tests, which reveal increased numbers of eosinophils — a type of white blood cell often associated with allergic conditions.
  • Bronchoscopy — a test that allows your doctor to look inside your lungs and remove a small amount of lung tissue (biopsy) for analysis. In pulmonary eosinophilia, lung tissue shows elevated numbers of eosinophils.

In most cases, pulmonary eosinophilia improves without treatment, typically within a few months. When needed, treatment may include corticosteroids. If the underlying cause of pulmonary eosinophilia is a reaction to a medication, discontinuing the medication usually resolves the problem.

A rare but serious complication of pulmonary eosinophilia is acute eosinophilic pneumonia (AEP), which may result in pulmonary failure. AEP occurs most often in people who smoke.

Last Updated: 06/05/2006
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