Breathing problems in soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are traced to deposits in tiny air passages of the lungs
Some soldiers serving in the Middle East who develop difficulty breathing — but whose chest X-rays show nothing out of the ordinary — have constrictive bronchiolitis, a kind of lung damage virtually unknown in young adults, a study shows.
Reporting in the July 21 New England Journal of Medicine, physician Robert Miller of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and his colleagues documented the condition in 38 of the 49 soldiers studied, who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan and came down with lung problems. Constrictive bronchiolitis, in which tiny airways become narrowed, has rendered some soldiers unfit for active duty.
“Most of them say they can’t seem to catch their breath when exerting themselves,” says study coauthor Matthew King, a pulmonologist at Meharry Medical College, also in Nashville. And while anti-inflammatory medicine and inhaled steroids can help symptoms, he says, the soldiers with bronchiolitis don’t imp