Learn about Bronchiolitis Obliterans with Organizing Pneumonia
Bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia (BOOP) is a pattern of lung damage that can result from many different causes.
- BOOP is a rare type of lung damage that has many potential causes but often a cause cannot be identified.
- Gradual onset of shortness of breath and dry cough are symptoms of BOOP.
- Steroid medicines, such as prednisone, are the most common treatment for BOOP.
What is BOOP?
BOOP is a pattern of injury to the lungs that is diagnosed on a lung biopsy. It is a rare condition in which inflammation affects the very small airways, or bronchioles, and air sacs, or alveoli, in the lungs. It can result from many different causes, including medication toxicity, radiation treatment, autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis), and certain types of lung infections. Sometimes a cause cannot be identified, and in this case the term “cryptogenic organizing pneumonia” (COP) is used. Most cases of BOOP do not involve fibrosis, or scarring, of the lungs. To make a diagnosis of BOOP, a pulmonologist takes into account information about other medical problems, environmental factors, and occupational history as well as lung function testing and x-rays before a lung biopsy is performed.
How BOOP affects your body
Symptoms of BOOP may vary based on the cause of the lung injury. Symptoms can begin gradually, over a few weeks to months. Most patients experience shortness of breath, dry cough, and weight loss. Some may also have flu-like symptoms with fever and sore throat at the beginning of their illness. BOOP can cause decreased lung capacity and may cause low oxygen levels in the blood.
How serious is BOOP?
BOOP is a rare condition that can cause very severe lung damage and may require hospitalization. Most cases of BOOP are treated with steroid medications that decrease the inflammation in the lung tissue. If BOOP is related to another medical problem, then treating that underlying disease is an important part of the treatment of the lung condition. Similarly, if it is due to exposure to a drug or inhalational injury, then stopping the exposure is necessary. With treatment, most cases of BOOP resolve with improvement of symptoms and lung function. Less commonly, BOOP can relapse after treatment or even cause progressive disease with lung fibrosis.
Amy Hajari Case, MD, FCCP
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