Simple pulmonary eosinophilia
Simple pulmonary eosinophilia is inflammation of the lungs from an increase in eosinophils, a type of white blood cell.
Pulmonary infiltrates with eosinophilia; Loeffler syndrome
Most cases of simple pulmonary eosinophilia are due to an allergic reaction from:
- A medicine, such as a sulfonamide antibiotic or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
- Infection with a fungus such as Aspergillus fumigatus or Pneumocystis jirovecii
- A parasite, including the roundworms Ascariasis lumbricoides, Necator americanus, or Ancylostoma duodenale (hookworms)
- Chest pain
- Dry cough
- General ill feeling
- Rapid respiratory rate
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms can range from none at all to severe. They may go away without treatment.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will listen to your chest with a stethoscope. Crackle-like sounds called rales may be heard. Rales suggest inflammation of the lung tissue.
Chest x-ray usually shows abnormal shadows called infiltrates. They may disappear with time or reappear in different areas of the lung.
A bronchoscopy with washing may show a large number of eosinophils.
Gastric lavage may show signs of the Ascaris worm or another parasite.
If you are allergic to a medicine, the doctor may tell you to stop taking it. Never stop taking a medicine without first talking with your doctor.
If the condition is due to an infection, you may be treated with an antibiotic or anti-parasitic medicine.
Sometimes, you may need corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory medicines).
The disease often goes away without treatment. If treatment is needed, the response is usually good. However, relapses can occur (the disease comes back), especially if the condition does not have a specific cause and requires treatment with corticosteroids.
A rare complication of simple pulmonary eosinophilia is a severe type of pneumonia called acute idiopathic eosinophilic pneumonia.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
See your health care provider if you have symptoms that may be linked with this disorder.
This is a rare disorder. Many times, the cause cannot be found. Minimizing exposure to possible risk factors, such as certain medicines or parasites, may reduce risk.
Cottin V, Cordier JF. Eosinophilic lung diseases. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al., eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 61.
McCarthy J, Nutrman TB. Parasitic lung infections. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al., eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 37.
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.