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The man whose coverlet almost killed him: how this medical puzzle was solved

"Two months after the onset of symptoms, I could not stand or walk for more than a few minutes without feeling fainted," wrote 43-year-old Martin Taylor of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in one on Monday in London the journal BMJ published case study.

"Going to bed took 30 minutes because I could handle only two stairs at a time and then sit and rest." Taylor added.

Four medical appointments could not find the cause, which was "extremely stressful," wrote Taylor, who had never smoked. As his health was poor, he stayed home from work and slept most of his days and nights.

Taylor did not then know that he was suffering from hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a condition in which the lung suffered from an allergic reaction. Detected early, the disease is easily treatable. Undiagnosed, it can lead to permanent lung scarring and even death.

Unfortunately, the doctors he saw for the first time had no idea of ​​the cause at Taylor.

Time for Dr. med. Sherlock

Taylor was initially treated for upper respiratory tract infection. His health continued to deteriorate over the next three months. Then a radiologist dismissed an X-ray of his lungs as usual.

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"Dempsey added that it can be difficult to diagnose hypersensitivity pneumonitis because the changes are often subtle and show only" mild diffuse lung grayness. "

"I think the radiologist might have thought it was just a little 'underexposed' chest X-ray," Dempsey said.

Dempsey picked up the phone and called Taylor.

"He sounded very breathless after just going from one room in his house to another," Dempsey said. "Very abnormal for such a young man, it was clear that the patient had a progressive and really very debilitating respiratory distress, which now disturbed the activities of daily life."

Making the diagnosis was "a bit of a puzzle," Dempsey said. One of the first indications was Taylor's blood count, which showed that his immune system was exposed to bird protein. Taylor, however, told Dempsey that he had no birds, only a cat and a dog.

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