Loud Music Can Cause Lung Collapse
Blasting music can be hard on the ears
and the neighbors, and now researchers say it can also pack enough
punch to collapse a lung.
Reporting in the medical journal
Thorax, they describe the cases of four young men who suffered
a lung collapse -- technically called pneumothorax --that appeared
to be triggered by loud music. Three of the men were at a concert
or club when the pneumothorax occurred, while the fourth was in
his car, which was outfitted with a 1,000-watt bass box because
he "liked to listen to loud music."
A pneumothorax occurs when a small
rupture in one of the lungs allows air to leak into the space
between the lungs and the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse.
Symptoms include breathlessness and chest pain on the affected
A small, partial collapse may resolve
on its own, but more severe cases may require the insertion of
a chest tube to allow the air to escape the chest cavity.
Often, an underlying lung disease
or chest injury is the culprit in pneumothorax. But so-called
primary spontaneous pneumothorax happens in the absence of an
underlying disease, typically striking tall, thin, male smokers.
The cases described in the Thorax
report suggest that loud music may be one cause of this type of
pneumothorax. Though the report cites only a small number of patients,
lead author Dr. Marc Noppen told Reuters Health he suspects more
cases of music-induced pneumothorax will now be caught.
Since the report's publication,
he said, doctors in a few countries have told him they've seen
similar cases. If more doctors routinely ask pneumothorax patients
about their exposure to loud music, the number of injuries attributed
to blasting tunes will likely go up, noted Noppen, who is with
the Academic Hospital in Brussels, Belgium.
In two of the cases his team describes,
the men were standing close to large loudspeakers when they suddenly
felt chest pain.
A third case involved a 23-year-old
smoker who had suffered several episodes of pneumothorax. During
a follow-up medical visit, the doctors mentioned having seen two
music-related pneumothorax cases, and the patient suddenly remembered
that two of his attacks happened at heavy metal concerts.
Noppen said he and his colleagues
suspect that loud music may damage the lungs due to its booming
bass frequency, which can be felt as a vibration going through
the body. The lungs may essentially start to vibrate in the same
frequency as the bass, which could cause a lung to rupture.
It's probably a good idea, according
to Noppen, to stand back from the speakers at concerts and clubs
and to ease up on that car-stereo bass. It might also save your
hearing, he added.
SOURCE: Thorax, August 2004.
Reference Source 89
September 3, 2004