Bronchiolitis Obliterans

We should only write the word “Popcorn” on cartons of snacks in movie theaters, not on our patients’ records - Florida Lung, Asthma & Sleep Specialists

Bronchiolitis Obliterans
Bronchiolitis Obliterans

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 Will Microwave Popcorn Ruin My Lungs?

Despite the relatively jocular-sounding name, popcorn lung is the nickname given to bronchiolitis obliterans, a condition which causes coughing and shortness of breath—and a condition which is thought to be caused, at least sometimes, by diacetyl—a chemical sometimes used to flavor microwave popcorn.

Bronchiolitis Obliterans (Obliterative Bronchiolitis, Constrictive Bronchiolitis)

Several risk factors can lead to the development of bronchiolitis obliterans. It is one of the most common noninfectious complications after lung transplant and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Outside of transplantation, bronchiolitis obliterans can be seen after exposure to inhaled toxins and gases including sulfur mustard gas, nitrogen oxides, diacetyl (used as popcorn flavoring), fly ash and fiberglass. Bronchiolitis obliterans is also associated with autoimmune disorders, especially rheumatoid arthritis and less commonly with inflammatory bowel disease. It is also known to occur after a respiratory viral infection (adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus), especially in children.


Bronchiolitis obliterans is an inflammatory condition that affects the lung's tiniest airways, the bronchioles. In affected people, the bronchioles may become damaged and inflamed leading to extensive scarring that blocks the airways. Signs and symptoms of the condition include a dry cough; shortness of breath; and/or fatigue and wheezing in the absence of a cold or asthma.[1][2][3] Many different chemicals (such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, welding fumes or food flavoring fumes) and respiratory infections can cause lung injury that leads to bronchiolitis obliterans.

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