Pigeon lung – loft dust respiratory allergy

What is pigeon lung? It is an allergy to the pigeon dust that affects about 20% of the pigeon fanciers, with different degrees of severity. Exposed to the pigeon dust, you get shortness of breath, cough, feverish illness and other symptoms. Read all about this allergy on the Pigeon Lung website – it is the official resource for this health problem. Pigeon fanciers lung is a form of extrinsic allergic alveolitis.

I also had pigeon lung and I created this page for all the fanciers with this allergy to exchange tips and ideas. Let’s help each other to easily manage pigeon lung and keep our pigeons and beloved hobby.

Below is a list of resources about PFL. I will update this list every time I find interesting and useful information. Please contribute with your knowledge.

LOFT PROJECTS

Loft project #1

This is the first anti-dust loft project I designed. What do you think about it? It sucks, doesn’t it? :)
What I tried was to create a dust free environment – the dust will be carried away through the floor, lateral walls and even under the roof. I would have a solid ground under the loft and would wash away all the droppings felt to the ground. The loft’s floor would be 2 or more meters far from the ground. I would use a removable ladder to access the loft and this would also prevent cats and other predators from entering the loft.

Click on the picture to enlarge it:

pigeon lung loft 1

Loft project #2

I think this second model isn’t so good at keeping the loft environment dust free… I was trying to find a way to make the loft look nice from outside, and not be surrounded by feathers and droppings.

Click on the picture to enlarge it:

pigeon lung loft 2

Of course, there are other options like the rabbit hutch lofts described on the pigeon-lung.co.uk website.

Loft project #3 – My Loft Floor

In 2011 I built new lofts and got back in the pigeon hobby. Below I post some pictures of the wire mesh floor I built that minimizes dust in the loft. The loft still collects some dust in the nest boxes but they can also be made in such a way that dust falls off from the nest box. Please contribute, send me your ideas and pictures too, to post them here.

RESPIRATORY PROTECTION MASKS

The pigeon bloom, which is the main source of inhaled pigeon protein, is an extremely small dust particle (<5 microns). The mask must filter out particles down to 5 microns, the size of pigeon dust; bloom, feather particles and droppings. Resources: I personally use www.aircap2.com : the great thing about it is that it filters the air and also covers your hair (the hair would collect a lot of dust).

WEARABLE PERSONAL AIR PURIFIERS

Minimate
Ion Wind Personal Air Purifier
Airogard

MANGOSTEEN JUICE

Mangosteen is a tropical fruit with natural anti-inflammatory properties, and I found articles claiming that it is good for pigeon lung. The articles are by Rick Tozier, btw.

AIR FILTRATION SYSTEMS INSTALLED IN THE LOFT

Thanks to Mr. Larry Lucas, I found a device that seems to be the perfect solution for all of us who have pigeon lung. The great thing about it is that it filters 98-99% of all particles, five microns in size and 85% of particles one micron in size!

I think that my loft project above + this air filter will be the perfect dust killer.

You can read more about it here. Does anybody use this?

SYMPTOMS WORSE IN WINTER, LESS OR ABSENT IN SUMMER

I noticed that several fanciers with pigeon lung say that their symptoms are worse during cold months and they feel better or even don’t have symptoms during summer. Exactly the same happens for me! This really is interesting and must be studied more, maybe we find an useful connection.

FAT IN THE DIET

This is a very interesting thing I remember I saw online somewhere. Jim Jenner was saying that a fancier told him that when he had a big change in his diet, starting a “no fat” diet, his allergies got very bad and he had to give up his birds. It seems like saturated fat is a critical part of the body function, especially for the surface of the lungs. He went back to a more normal diet, whole milk, butter, etc. and was able to keep pigeons again. Research book: “Eat Fat Lose Fat”.

I was also found another VERY INTERESTING information, somehow related to the above: fanciers with PFL that started to take tablets for cholesterol (Statins) reported that they have seen great improvement in their PFL symptoms.

Maybe somebody with a medical background can connect these and come to a conclusion?!

WHAT KIND OF SYMPTOMS DO YOU HAVE

How does the pigeon lung allergy affect you? What problems do you experience?

The biggest problems I have are when I am away from my pigeons for more than 2 weeks, and then I get back. When I return, I always get high fever and chills that night. This may happen the next day again if I am exposed to the pigeon dust, but then, I don’t get anymore fever or chills. I rarely get a tight chest. As my body gets used to the dust again, I only have a productive cough every morning, and if I continue to be exposed for months on a daily basis, even the cough eventually stops or becomes mild.

I think this is the “acute intermittent non-progressive” version of the allergy, as they describe it in this article. I must say that these happen when I do not use any kind of respiratory mask. After the first fever days are gone, I can even clean the loft myself (no mask) without having any problems, although I am sure this isn’t really smart.

However, I am not going to play hide-and-seek with my lungs on a long term. I intend to get used to wearing a mask and also build a dust free loft.

I am sad that the medical world does too little for this. I rarely see new info or articles about pigeon lung. All they know is: get rid of pigeons. Easy to say, hard to do.

Please share your thoughts and tips below. Thank you!

60 Comments

  1. Just wanted to let you know that I had some health problems that decreased my cholesterol a lot, and this increased the respiratory problems I had. I didn’t get a tight chest before, but now with low cholesterol I got it. I just try to make a connection with the other info already provided in the article, related to fats in our diet and pigeon lung.

    I gave up pigeons recently(for several reasons) but I intend to get back in the hobby as soon as possible and I’m trying to figure out the best method to avoid the pigeon dust. This is why I am updating this article on a regular basis.

    Come on people with pigeon lung, please share your thoughts.

  2. Hi There,
    Thanks for the useful information.
    I have had pigeons for 30 years – I am 40 now with a young family.
    I seem to have no symptoms, no cold sweats or such. I went for a chest x-ray around a month ago for an unrelated problem and the doctor noticed a cobweb-like effect in my lungs which was visible on the xrays.
    When I told him I keep pigeons, he sent me for a blood test which showed a very high sensitivity to pigeon protein.
    I was told to get rid of all my birds, which I really don’t want to do, but i don’t to become chronically ill or anything either.
    I have started wearing a mask and protective clothing and I am going to try the mangosteen juice for the next 3 months….hopefully my situation will improve.
    Everyone that I talk to about PFL has had the fevers, but I never had that problem but I have never been away from my birds for more than a couple of days at a time…..
    Has anyone else been diagnosed with the lung irritation like what I have?

  3. Andrei

    Hi Peter,

    As far as I know, the problem can develop without those acute symptoms (fever, etc) – being the chronic type(with “silent” development). It is very good that you discovered it. I met several older fanciers that didn’t know anything about PL but were wheezing and breathing very hard. Doctors say that the chronic phases are irreversible or take months to years to go away.

    Like you, I didn’t have acute symptoms when I was at home with the pigeons daily. I started to get them after being away for 2 weeks. Fever for the first night, than feeling perfect from the 2nd day on. However, I kept having a crazy cough in the morning (producing a lot of sputum). There was no wheezing and no tight chest. The chest x-ray showed tiny problems but I already got rid of my pigeons so I don’t know which protection measures work and how they work. Before giving up pigeons, I used a very old Aircap mask with expired filters so I am afraid that wasn’t good.

    Don’t you have the productive cough in the morning? Maybe you don’t even have PL if you feel 100% OK. You also must have spirometry tests (respiratory capacity tests).

    What was your level of sensitivity to the pigeon antigen? They say 6 to 20 is mild and over 100 is very high. The good news is there are reports of people who dropped their levels from over 100 to 0 after using respiratory masks all the time.

    Please let me know how Mangosteen works for you! I am trying to collect all the possible info here, because I intend to get pigeons in the future again…I really loved them.

  4. Brian Tack

    Thank you very much for this very informative article. I cannot add much so I feel that I must just state what worked for me. Firstly and a definate for me, Eat Fat Get Thin. Eating this way has changed all my allergies. I eat very few carbohydrates except natural ones. Also I fly widowhood so tend to have a mostly closed loft. All I do is wear a cheap paper type mask but I do wear a loft coat. This loft coat never comes in the house unless it is to be washed.

  5. Andrei

    Hi Brian, thank you for your contribution. If the basic paper mask works for you it’s great, it means your allergies are really low now. I really must read more about all this fat-diet thing.

  6. Danny

    I have kept pigeons for about 4 years knowing that I have pigeon lung I am 37. After basketing at the club is the only time I have attacks know becasue I always wear a Soudstrum mask when near pigeons. I stay out of the club house as much as possible arriving at the later part of the evening and never handle the birds.(which is hard becasue you always feel slack) I find that a good tip is to hold your breath when tossing pigeons or when your in a dusty situations eg at someone house. I get my lungs checked once a year (xray and on lung machine) and to date have had no problems although I always get them checked off season. I vaccum and sweep the walls once a month and have a large race section 4 x 4m with all the walls and ceiling lined in sheeting except the front. I would only need to be in my loft with no mask for 10mins and exactly 4 hour later I would be shivering like mad. Every morning I do cough up stuff but because my lung specalist says everything is alright I don’t worry. I found it hard to wear a mask at first but know I don’t think about it at all its part of my routine and all my kids have followed suit.

  7. Andrei

    Hi Danny, thank you for sharing your experience. It was exactly the same for me, 10 minutes were enough to shiver like mad a few hours later.

    I also did cough stuff in the morning but that was only when I wasn’t using the mask. I think that coughing means we still breath some dust, although not enough to trigger fever and all that.

  8. COLIN

    Im 34 have pigeons 2 years never heard of pigeon lung before i started them.Within 6 months couldnt carry wanes to bed out off breath and weak as water.Got blood sent away to scotland to woman called Iona Donnelly got results 74% bloom started to wear mask and hat symptoms seemed to be clearing so got another test done still 84% bloom was told that the lungs had got used to the dust.Is this a recent problem because i kept pigeons before when i was 14 to about 18 dont mind havin any problems.Love keeping the birds but dont want to take a chance on my health what should i do?

  9. Andrei

    Hi Colin. It was the same for me – I had pigeons as a kid with no problems, and now at 30, I got PL. As far as I know, the antibodies in the blood need a lot of time to clear, so even if the symptoms clear, they will still appear in the tests for a long time.

    You should wear a good mask, hat and coat, and wash hands after handling birds. The mask is very important – I used an Aircap model which was great, but after some time the filters expired and I ignored that, and got PL again. Now I gave up pigeons but will restart soon and will do everything necessary to keep them.

    I find it very strange to have bigger counts AFTER protective measures. I would limit the contact with the birds a lot, and do another test in a month or so. It is off season now, and this would really work. I had many weeks when I was just going to the loft to feed them once a day (fed them in 2 minutes, holding my breath LOL) – no problems. And I had someone else to clean the loft.

    I do think that PL is a “modern” disease and I suspect the antibiotics and other meds we take, the food full of chemicals and so on, all these make the immune systems go crazy.

  10. COLIN

    THANKS VERY MUCH FOR THE INFORMATION HOPEFULLY I WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP YHE BIRDS AS I GET GREAT ENJOYMENT OUT OF KEEPING THEM.I HAVE A COUPLE OF FRIENDS WHO KEEP PIGEONS AND DONT SEEM TO BE SHOWIN ANY SYMPTOMS EVEN THOUGH THEY MIGHT STAY IN THE SHED FOR 2O MIN AT A TIME WHICH MAKES IT VERY FRUSTRATING.I THINK MAYBE ONE OF MY MAIN PROBLEMS IS THAT I PROB OVER CROWD AS IVE JUST ONE SHED 16 FT LONG WITH A FLIGHT AND 30 BIRDS WHICH COULD GO UP TO 50 DURIN RACIN SEASON.I LL DEF START WEARING A FULL LENGHT COAT MASK AND HAT THEN GET ANOTHER BLOOD TEST IN MONTHS TIME AGAIN I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED ON HOW I GET ON

  11. hi,
    my names gary cook and i think i have pigeon lung.It all started about 5 yrs ago when i got diagnosed with asthma i am now 18 and have been in pigeons since i was 12. i have realised it wasnt asthma and it was pigeon lung it would happen after i had been in the lofts n a would cough, sweat, shake all the syptoms. i landed in hospital wen it was 14 when me red blood cells were popping in mu stomach n my red cell blood count was low n could hardly walk with out bein tired or blacking out. i got better after 5weeks in hospital and they didnt diagnose me to pigeon lung but ive red that pigeon lung produces more white cells white takes over your red ones. so i put it down to tht but now i wear a mask and change of clothes which helps it does get worse in the winter but aye jst try n stay out of the lofts more often. i refuse to go to doctors wen im ill becuase i do not want to give then up.

  12. Andrei

    Hi Gary. Indeed, mine was much worse in winter too.

    As long as your mask and clothes changing keep you fine, it’s perfect. But I would go to the doctor at the first sign, if that happens again. Also you might want to try to send a blood sample to the guys at pigeonlung.co.uk to see your current level of sensitivity. It’s a scale from 0 to 100 or so.

    It would be VERY interesting to learn if our levels of sensitivity are worse in winter, based on clear blood test results.

    I suspect it has something to do with vitamin D which controls immunity. Vitamin D is much lower in winter because of the low sun exposure (they say sun exposure generates vitamin D in our skin). Crazy immunity might be the root of our problem, since our bodies attack particles that in fact aren’t dangerous for our body (pigeon protein from the dust). In fact I have pollen allergy too, which is based on the same wrong reaction of the body to a harmless particle. If a link is discovered, we would fix the problem by correcting our vitamin D level, but doctors should study this in great detail first. Do they? Don’t know. Unfortunately, there are few to no new articles on pigeon lung. All they know is: avoid pigeons, bye. I hate this.

    Keep the news coming! Thanks

  13. hi andrei,
    What do you think would happen if i carried on with pigeons and didnt find out if i had pigeon lung and just stayed away from them in the winter. In this way you can keep your hobby stay resonable well and hopefully win some races haha ?? Do you think pigeon lung could be enoug to kill you ? i think also extractor fans are good for keeping fresh air in the loft rather than cold dust air staying in the loft. the key thing is to have fresh air cumin in taking dust and pigeon smell with it . note that i think lofts must b bone dry as i think dampness affects your lungs and your birds ..

    gary

  14. Andrei

    Hi Gary,

    I wouldn’t wait to see how bad it can be. :) I heard about some really bad cases but I don’t want to think about them, I just try to find the right solution to still keep birds and be safe.

    Just make regular visits to the doctor to check the lungs and also send blood samples to the guys at pigeon-lung.co.uk to see the level of sensitivity. As long as it is pretty low, you are safe and it means the current mask/method works. If not, additional measures must be found. They can tell you. I know that ignoring the problem can produce irreversible lung problems and we must avoid that.

    I had a cough every morning and it disappeared after using a good mask. When the filter expired I was stupid enough to forget changing it and it was bad again. Now I really miss my pigeons, life really sux without them, I hope to restart soon. I even plan to feed them outside and enter the loft only for banding chicks and catching them for races, once a week. (because I kinda hate that mask although it makes me look better hehe)

    Indeed, dampness affects birds, but also, dry floors produce a great amount of dust.

    People use extractor fans but I don’t know how good they are. A wired floor would guarantee zero dust I think (see my drawings above in the article). Do you think that would work?

    How many wired walls does your loft have? Mine had a wired front and 50% of a side wall, but it wasn’t enough.

  15. Mohammad

    Hi All,
    Thanks for the site and your informaiton.
    about 30 years ago I started to keep pegions as pet. For the first 5 or six years I had about 50 of them in a normal room on the older side of the parents house. I easily spent about 2 or more hours daily in that room. Then the finishing high school and moving to different places I gave up the hobby for about 20 years. Now, it is been about 5 years that I have my pets flying around my house in Perth.
    I’ve never had any health problem as far as I know. I have a lovely 17 month old daughter that she loves the birds. She can’t wait to jion me to feed the birs. By knowing and reading all about the pegion lung, I am concernd that migh be dangerous daily practice to my daughter.
    I don’t know what to do with the situation. She realy loves the birds and feeding them. On the other hand I absoloutely don’t want to couse any health problem to my lovely daughter.
    Any advice will be appreciated.
    Mohammad

  16. Andrei

    Hi Mohammad, only few people have problems with pigeon dust and need high exposure. It’s good to think about your daughter, anyway.

    To be totally safe and sure, I would just teach the pigeons to eat outside the loft in the garden, and so your daughter can enjoy feeding them without any dust exposure. Pigeon dust is a problem only in closed rooms.

  17. Phil Shaw

    I had a blood test in 1986 at the Blackpool Show in England. Result was a mild sensitivity to Pigeon Lung. My symptoms were much the same as others tight chest sweats out of breath etc. I emigrated to Australia in 1988. My next contact with Pigeons were in 1993 on a holiday back to the UK. I visited some mates lofts, as you do. The tight chest etc returned, the symptoms must be able to lie dormant until your next contact. I have read your site for the first time today, very informative of this problem. Hope my comments are of help to someone.

  18. Webmaster

    Hi David. As far as I know Prednisone is used short term to relieve symptoms but when you stop using it, the symptoms are back. It isn’t safe to use it long term.

    Interesting point about Doxycycline. I had pigeon lung on and off for years and I also took antibiotics on and off for years. I’m not sure if the periods when I was PL free were the ones when I was on antibiotics.

    I also remember that my pigeon lung started after my first courses of antibiotics and it is a well known fact that antibiotics impair your immune system.

    I am really sad because the guys studying pigeon lung do not offer any new research data, no treatments, no-nothing. I hate those damn masks.

    Please share if you find anything new about antibiotics in relation to pigeon lung. Since antibiotics tend to lower immunity, it may be true that they can relieve PL symptoms since PL is the product of a very alert crazy immune system.

    However, antibiotics also aren’t safe long term, so I would avoid them and try to find the root problem of this allergy. For example, I also had pollen alergy and eating honey produced locally eased the symptoms. There must be a natural safe cure for pigeon lung too. Let’s find it!

  19. Webmaster

    Hey, I found a very interesting article here:
    http://newcbl.homestead.com/Breeders-Lung.html

    Thank you John for sharing!!!

    ———————————–

    BREEDERS LUNG My name is John McDonald , I am 69 years old. I have had Racing Pigeons 365 days a year for most of my life.

    Today I would like to share with you ONE mans experience with Breeders Lung. For clarification past articles have referred to this as “ Pigeon Breeders Disease “ and “ Pigeon Fanciers Lung Disease “ but what ever you call it – they all refer to the same ailment. There is one exception, This does not refer to “ Histo Plasmosis ” which is completely different.

    In order for you to be able to relate to this , I will describe the onset of the problem, and give you a brief synopsis of the time frame.

    I started with the pigeons in 1949 at age 9 and except for 3 years in the Navy, I had the pigeons continuously til 1993.

    By 1980 I had the pigeons for nearly 30 years with out any symptoms. 1980 was also the year I started to follow the Government Recommendations about fat in the diet. As I look back – it was not long after I started following the Government Recommended diet that I noticed a shortness of breath.

    By the mid 80’s , In less than 5 years after I started to follow the Government Recommended diet. I was told I had Exercise Induced Asthma ( E.I.A. )

    By 1990 , just 10 years after I started to follow the Government Recommended diet , I had all the symptoms of acute breeders lung.

    By 1993 I sold all my pigeons. In 2001 I started again with the pigeons. But by 2003 the symptoms come back and I had to get rid of all the pigeons again.

    This time frame is important because:
    It took 44 years to manifest itself , 10 years later it still hadn’t corrected itself. Then I run across a book that would change my life. The book was published in January 2005. I got a copy in May 2005. Within 1 year after reading the book and changing my diet all symptoms were gone.

    By fall of 2006 I felt so much better I decided to get the pigeons again. As I write this it is fall 2009, I have had pigeons for 3 years with NO symptoms of Breeder Lung or Exercise Induced Asthma.

    Now that I have identified the problem let’s talk about what I suspected was the cause.

    Sense the early 80’s Government Recommendations, Medical Doctrine, and so called health experts have stressed low – fat and non fat foods. Particularly saturated fats. American Heart Association says “ choose a diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol.”

    The food Pyramid developed by US Dept. Of Agriculture and US Dept. Of Health & Human Service specified foods to be low – fat or fat free. The National Heart & Lung Institute, offers recipes with reduced fat content.

    For nearly 25 years I had gradually cut out all of the fats in my diet , I thought I was doing the right thing by following these Government Recommendations.

    Imagine my surprise when I came across a new book titled “ Eat Fat Lose Fat ”.

    In my opinion , the cause of my problems were a lack of saturated fats in my diet.

    So, what is the solution?

    Some people have said there is NO connection between Breeders Lung and Exercise Induced Asthma. I think the common denominator are faulty lungs. When irritants such as pigeon dust or bloom , hot or cold air enters lungs that have been impaired or compromised by faulty diet – the lungs are unable to do their job properly and therefore the symptoms we experience appear , no matter if it be Breeders Lung or Exercise Induced Asthma.

    I quote from the book . “ The lungs CAN NOT work without adequate saturated fats in the diet. The lungs secrete a fluid called surfactant ( ser fak’ tant) which enables them to function properly. This fluid is made of two fatty acids, both of which are saturated. Therefore the fluid that enables the lungs to work are normally 100% saturated. In fact, changes in fat consumption patterns over the past 30 years explains the rising incidents of all types of lung disease, including asthma and lung cancer .”

    To my mind, it was clear , the answer to the question was obvious. The solution is to include more of the GOOD saturated fats in your diet.

    In closing I would say this connection between a lack of saturated fats in the diet and many disorders of the lung are only the first step. I invite those of you that are much more educated & skilled than I to do the testing that is necessary to prove or disprove this thesis.

    My only advice is to get the book and read it . The first half of the book explains how and why we got these Government Recommendations , the second half is full of recipes to help make the transition to a healthy diet.

    My reason for writing this is that someone who reads it might experience the same benefits that I have had. For those of you with NO symptoms use this knowledge as a preventative measure for what the future may hold.

    Yours In The Sport,
    John

  20. Webmaster

    Another article from here:
    http://www.elimarpigeons.com/Article5/Parkinson19610709.htm

    ———————————

    This has been a problem to many fanciers with some using it as the reason to leave the sport and have a big clearance sale. Much of this has been written before in one way or another but I am going to go through it in full after receiving calls about pigeon lung recently. When I first started racing pigeons at the end of the 60s I did not have much of a problem although I did used to have coughing spells when I had been cleaning out. In those days every nook and cranny was cleaned out with the brush and shovel being in near constant use. Through the 70s I was not too bad but as that decade drew to a close I knew that I had a problem when I was around the pigeons. At the start of the next decade I went to see my doctor and explained everything to him and included in that conversation I told him that I had racing pigeons. Now we all know that when you tell a doctor that the first reaction is that “You will have to get rid of them” As soon as some fanciers hear that the pigeons are gone but not me I, as they say “Eat, sleep and Drink pigeons” As with anything to do with the breathing apparatus of the human body the doctor’s jump on the easiest solution and as pointed out in my case get rid of them. The next step from the doctor was three inhalers four times each day and wanting to keep the pigeons and stay with pigeon racing I took them up and started using them religiously. My breathing and lung capacity improved by the end of the first day and so I thought, “Great I am sorted and can carry on with the pigeons as normal” The use of inhalers carried on through the 80’s and 90’s and I started to use a mask for the first time. Them as the new millennium begun I started to cut down on the use of the inhalers by taking them three times each day instead of four. I also made an appointment with my doctor to discuss the use of medication for my breathing. During this appointment he suggested that I started to wear a cap while with the pigeons because he pointed out that the dust would settle on my head and go through my scalp into my system. So when I went into the pigeons I would wear a mask, hat and loft coat probably from the pigeons were looking and think, “What’s that” they probably did without the gear but that’s another matter. So after that conversation this decade has seen me look at what I do in another light because leaving the sport is the last thing on my mind. I was now getting into my 50s and looking at the sport in a different light, I was now looking at what I could do to help both the pigeons and myself. I was never in favour of using the inhalers and as much as I was appeared as if I was just keeping myself alive. I then had a conversation with Sir Richard from Dazer about what other steps I could take to help the pigeons and myself. I also include the pigeons because in today’s ways of keeping them mostly closed up the dust may also affect them. So I introduced the Yakuso/Airogard around my neck, which I use when the pigeons are in the car and I found it worked. So my next conversation with Sir Richard was about the lofts and after that I introduced the ionisers into each section and what a difference they have made. So with all these changes I started to wean myself of the inhalers against my doctor’s advice. So as the first decade of the new century draws to a close I have discarded all the inhalers for nearly 12 months now. The precautions in the lofts are all in place, the Yakuso/Airogard goes with my in the car and in general my breathing is not too bad. The only real downfall’s are when we are marking bird sat the club I do not take the Yakuso/Airogard with me and I should. I do get a bit wheezy from time to time especially in the hot weather but in general I am much improved on how I was before I introduced what I call my bodyguards. Those bodyguards are my hat/loft coat/mask/Yakuso/Airogard compared with three different inhalers four times each day. How I will go on through the next decade if I am still here is another matter but as we get older our bodies do not have the same protection so I may just to help myself go back on the inhalers. However having gone through the chest problems that dust can bring I would at keeping pigeons in a different light and protect myself from day one. So if you are young and in pigeon racing protect yourself from the offset with the hat/loft coat/mask/Yakuso/Airogard. Then you may stay in pigeons longer and not suffer with your health because at the end of the day such health problems can be avoided and you may be able to race pigeons right up to the end. Always remembers prevention is better than cure and pigeon dust or any dust will not affect everyone. Pigeon racing is a great hobby to have so protect yourself and your pigeons the best way you can and you will enjoy them more.

  21. I have been diagnosed with pigeon lung after years of false diagnoses. If anyone can give me any more information about pigeon lung and how it can be controlled or cured, because according to our fine pulmonary physician, I’m dying of PL.

  22. Hello and thank you very much for sharing your ideas. I am a fellow fancier and what I’ve found to be the most helpful is to keep the body at a high level of health. I am a practitioner of Oriental Medicine, which has a 5,000 year history. It is one of the most effective healing modalities because it treats the root cause of the problem, and strenthens the whole body at the same time.

    How is it that only a fraction of fanciers are affected by this condition? There is an underlying reason why someone who had been smoking for 50 years and not develop any lung problems, yet someone who smokes for a few years develop a serious lung issue. Again, what causes this discrepancy? Oriental Medicine explains that some are born with naturally stronger bodies. For this discussion’s sake, some are born with stronger lungs than others.
    So, what can one do to help with this condition? I would highly recommend consulting an Oriental Medicine practitioner in your area. If not possible, find yourself a golf ball and roll it under your feet. You see, the feet are microsystems, meaning a person’s entire body is represented on the feet somewhere. By stimulating these specific points, one would essentially be strengthening the entire body. You will come across tender points, and this are the ones you would want to give more attention to. Google search “reflexology chart” on the internet to have a guide map.

    Also, the ears work the same way. The whole body can be strengthened by simply massaging the ears. Look up “auricular chart” and this should help you as well.

    These are just a few ideas. Just because modern medicine has no answers other than prescribe dangerous medications, it doesn’t mean there’s no hope. OM has been around for 5,000 years, while modern medicine for 200 years at the most. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not bashing modern medicine, but when it comes to preventative and non-surgical procedures there are much better ways than meds.

    I would be more than happy to help anyone interested in learning more about natural medicine. Feel free to contact me and I will do my best to help. Thanks.

  23. Webmaster

    Ryan, you are right and it’s so sad that the guys studying pigeon lung don’t care about the root cause, they just think of ways to avoid pigeons. It definitely is a root cause that can be treated and fix the problem, hopefully some smart guy will find the solution for all the fanciers.

  24. REG OLIVER

    HI I HAVE HAD PIGEON LUNG ATTACKS TWICE AND BOTH TIMES I HAVE ENDED UP IN HOSPITAL WITH NUMONIA I WAS PUT ON STERIODS 8 A DAY FOR EIGHTEEN MONTHS TO STOP THE COUGHING I COULD NOT WALK UP THE STAIRS TO GO TO BED I HAD TO SLEEP ON THE SETTE AS I HAD NO STRENGTH AND WAS OUT OF BREATH IN LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT AND WQS VERY ILL REGARDS REG OLIVER

  25. Robert.

    Hi, I have had bloom allergy (thats what my doctor calls it)for 2 years,the doctor said it wasn’t seriuos ,I had xrays which were clear and prescribed Ventaline before and after entering the loft or going to meetings and pigeon shows,but I wouid still feel symptyms of the shacks and feverish.
    I resentaly went away for 3 days fishing and felt fantastic and full of energy ( i’m 56 years old ),But when I return home and entered the loft to tend to the birds the allergy hit me and I started feeling shit again ,reaching for the venaline and thinking this is krap I decieded to give up the pigeons,that was a month ago and so far I havn’t experianced any shortness of breath or any other symptyms.
    It seems to me and having a few other mates that suffer the same allergy that as we get older is when it hits us the most,we are all over 50+ years.
    Not sure if I will go back to the birds in the future time will tell……………Cheers Robert..

  26. ken jones manchester

    i am nearly 69. i kept pigeons as a teenager then stopped. when was age 52 i started keeping them again .most days i would spend many hours with over sixty birds in my lofts . in my sixties i was getting short of breath when doing various activities . i didn’t feel any worse when i was in contact with the birds. i told the hospital specialist that i kept pigeons and he sent me for a scan. the scan confirmed his suspicion that i had pigeon lung. he told me that i must get rid of the birds otherwise it would get worse. i told him that i dont get the symptons that other people get and my only sympton was short of breath. i didnt want to believe it was the birds so i had my blood test done at the blackpool show. the result showed exceptionaly high levels. i then stopped racing reduced the number of birds to mostly stock birds and made my loft so it was mostly open front. i only went in the loft to feed and water the birds ,i didnt do any breeding and kept them on deep litter. i used a mask when cleaning out aprox every 6 weeks…for the next few years i had my blood test as soon as i arrived at the blackpool show. gradually over five or six years my levels dropped and they are now fairly low. i still have around twelve pet pigeons which fly around the house. because i have hardly any contact with the bird my symptons have hardly got any worse if at all. i still wander how bad my lungs would have been if i had completly ignored my doctors advice. i did buy the air cap 2 when i got the results of my first blood test but i admit i only used it when cleaning out sometimes.

  27. Andrei (PigeonMania.com)

    Hi Ken, thanks for sharing your story. I would suggest a loft higher from the ground and with a wire mesh floor – this way no dust can stay inside the loft. Deep litter sounds like tons of dust to me. With the wire mesh floor, the droppings will collect on the ground and cleaning is a lot more easier, no dust involved since it gets carried away with the wind in the momment it is produced.

  28. I have spent hours and hours on the internet, trying to learn more about this disease. It does seem that the majority of the research is in the UK. Just recently, they are now testing for the proteins/antigens/titers here in the states.
    I began breeding and training pure white homers in 2005. In mid 2006 I quite smoking and 6 months later developed extrinsic allergic alveolitis. After several weeks of cortisone treatment, the ground glass opacifications seen in the CT scan had resolved. I started smoking again in 2008 and became lax in wearing a respirator when cleaning the lofts, etc. Unremarkable until January 2012, when I had severe bouts of coughing, near choking (not smoker’s cough) during the early evening hours. Doctors could find no abnormalities…lungs were clear on x-ray and ausculation. I asked for a CT and they said it was not necessary at this time. Only other complaint was extreme fatigue. All blood work normal. It was then discovered by oximetry that my ox sat levels were extremely low. New HDCT shows, again, ground glass densities. I have been wearing a mask since January and having someone else clean the loft. Doctors have told me to avoid the birds completely, but I just can’t do that. Anyone else have oxygen problems? And that being the only thing…no fevers, coughing has stopped since using oxygen therapy. I watch my ox sat level closely and can actually tell when it takes a dive and reach for my oxygen.

  29. MATTHEW MASON

    HI JUST WONDERED IF ANYONE COULD HELP ME WITH MY ALLERGY.
    I USED TO KEEP AND RACE PIGEONS FROM A VERY YOUNG AGE AND HAD A 12 YEAR BREAK FROM THE BIRDS, THEN DECIDED TO START AGAIN IN SEPT 2011 ONLY TO BECOME VERY ILL AROUND DEC 2011. I WAS HOSPITALISED FOR AROUND 3 WEEKS WITH VERY BAD LUNGS,FEELING WEAK AND LOOSING WEIGHT ETC. I STATED TO THE DOCTORS THAT I KEPT PIGEONS BUT THEY JUST KEPT SAYING THAT I HAD CAUGHT A VIRAL INFECTION. AFTER LEAVING HOSPITAL I CONTACTED THE BRITISH PIGEON MEDICAL RESEARCH TEAM WHO TESTED ME TO HAVE PFL MILD TO MODERATE. I WAS STILL FEELING VERY ILL THAT I GOT RID OF ALL THE BIRDS, AFTER A COUPLE OF WEEKS I WAS FEELING BACK TO A1 HEALTH, AS TIME WENT ON THIS YEAR I MISSED THE BIRDS THAT MUCH I STARTED AGAIN KEEPING THE BIRDS IN RABBIT HUTCH STYLE LOFTS WHICH SEEMS FINE,BUT I STLL GET TIGHT CHEST AND I ALSO GET RED SPOTS ON MY UPPER BODY? CAN ANYONE TELL ME IF THIS IS TO DO WITH THE BIRDS, I THINK THIS COULD BE AN ALLERGY TO THE BLOOM?…JUST TO LET YOU KNOW I WEAR A AIRCAP 4 MASK IN FINE WEATHER AND MOLDEX 4205 MASK IN DAMP WEATHER…
    I JUST GET ALITTLE WORRIED AS I HAVE A YOUNG FAMILY AND I DONT WANT TO CAUSE ANY LONG TERM HEALTH PROBLEMS TO MYSELF.

  30. Andrei (PigeonMania.com)

    Hi Matthew, please check the diet tips written in the article and the loft model I posted. I would build a loft that has a wire mesh floor and all the dust is taken away with the wind or you wash it down on a regular basis.

    I know the rabbit hutch “loft” models but I don’t think they are good since a lot of dust can still be collected in them. You must not offer any chance for the dust to collect.

  31. Hi,

    my wife is having couging for last few years, on and off, the doctors were not able to trace what was the cause, recently , we came to know that her lungs has swollen and that could be due to the pigons which are there in our back nabourhood ( there had been some of them leaving there in the broken windows for many years now as nobody is leaving there) although we are not having direct touch with them, is there a possibility of having pigon lung . how that would be determined?? is there any specific test for this?

  32. Jim Smith

    Can i ask a question please, i have kept pigeons for 40 years
    My question is i cough up white mucis all day and feel tired
    and lathargic.
    Can anybody answer my question Thank You

  33. arqam

    i never had pigeon lung, i live pakistan even though its a hot country it gets severly cold in the winter and i think i found the answers to your problem.first of all i have a sort of cage and loft mix. the holes in the floor[small enough for your finger]i made my self are work fine to keep out the dust second i have 8 of my beloved piegons but i keep only 4 in one loft/cage. the loft can easily acompany 10 piegons but i keep only 4 to reduce the dust production.and the mian factor is that the loft is quiet high but the bottom walls are wire mesh which allows air to move through and the piegon platforms and roosts are high up and if any air settels on the floor its either blown out or under the holes also this creates a kind of draught at the entrance of the cage/loft further aidding your piegons on take off when the want to flyoff for things like feilding

  34. vanna

    My Dad has had breathing issues recently and has been a pigeon flyer for 60+years. Getting rid of his birds was recommended, also a thorough cleaning of his aviaries which are upstairs of his garage. Does anyone know if the proteins in the pigeon dust and feathers that aggravate the lungs die once the birds are gone? To clean the whole coop is a daunting task, but include the garage and its contents?, nearly impossible to get all the dust.

  35. Wayne smith

    Hi this is my first time on here bare with me , I raced pigeons way back in 1993 -1995 and I started to get really bad fatigue could hardly walk, plus heavy breathing and let alone cycle my bike, so was told to go for a check up at the docs and I told him I kept pigeons and he sent me for an x-ray and then bloods was told a week later I had wat they call pigeon lung and was told by my consultant and my doc to get rid of my birds so i did and for the rest of the year was my recovery time , well it was a long road I got better well at least I could go out and cycle my bike lol. So in 2010 I found a racing pigeon near deaths door well almost getting eaten with a sparrow hawk saved its life silly thing i did was keep it in the house in a cage till it recovered mmm 1 year later but this pigeon became my friend and now I’m back keeping pigeons again after almost 18 years and you guessed it yup I got pigeon lung again frm keeping this pigeon in the house oops then I went to a pigeon show was there all day but when leaving I got the fever and the shakes of feeling cold I thought I had flu but I ended up I couldn’t breath ended up in hospital early ours on oxygen as my stats were 63 they should be 100% they kept me in ran all the tests and it came back I had p.f.l well I was gutted but I haven’t gave my birds up as I now wear a dust mask and other clothing while feeding and cleaning and racing also at the club hut I wear a mask and old clothes they go straight into the machine on return taking no risk this time . I will admit tho I still feel tight chested only when it’s cold and one time repairing the felt I ended up with the shakes and the fever and slept most of the day and felt better when I woke up next day .

  36. Wayne smith

    Just want to add I don’t care about wat people think of wat I look like with a mask on as I’m playing it safe but some people would feel embarrassed about wearing the mask don’t be as it will save your health and your lungs from the dreaded bloom

  37. pigeonmania.com

    I agree with you Wayne, wearing masks we look a bit silly but health is more important than anything.

    Interesting thing that you say you have more problems during cold weather, same thing happened to me multiple times.

  38. Wayne smith

    Yeah even when I take the dog out at nite and it’s freezing cold I get breathless and I don’t go far even standing talking to a mate one nite I had to cut short our conversation to take my ventolin inhaler which helped . I was in the loft today cleaning and with all this snow we’ve had felt my chest a little tight but I had my mask on so I just got on with it .

  39. Willy Soto

    Hello;
    My name is Willy, I am 46 years old now but when I was a kid back home in Puerto Rico,my brothers and I always had pigeons. Now,I was never aware of the PL until three years ago when I acquired pigeons again.As I began to build my loft, one of my neighbors came over and started to explain to me about his friend back in Ohio who had died from keeping these, and I quote. “Rats with wings”. I had previously heard the negative term in which people who are ignorant about these beautiful and very intelligent creatures of nature reffer to them as. At this moment, I restrained my self from tossing this guy over the fence into his property but, that would only bring trouble to me and my soon to be acquired feathery friends. Well enough of that,the point is that I learned about the PL and so, I have being wearing a regular dust mask when I clean my loft twice a day and feed my birds, also I like to mention that I have NOT had any problem whatsoever with my lungs nor fever or anything close to any sickness or allergies “knock on wood”. In conclusion , I like to mention that I have been going to the GYM from age 14 and my son and I, my son now 14, he started going to the GYM with me
    his favorite thing to do after a good work out is, going to the “Smoothie King” and have a mangosteen Smoothie, we have being doing this for a long time since mangosteen became popular at the Smoothie shops, I guess this mangosteen really helps. Gooooooooomangosteeeeeennn!

  40. Dennis Misselhorn

    Thanks to all the contributors to this site of such invaluable information, which I am sure brings some hope to many fanciers faced with this diabolical condition.
    It is sad to be faced with getting rid of ones birds when they are the source of so much pleasure, but by the same token your health must always take preference of course.

    My experience with pigeon lung surfaced after 50 years of keeping pigeons and manifested suddenly without a build up of symptoms as some of the writers have experienced.
    At the time when I realised that there was evidence of symptoms, there were several factors that could have contributed to my immunity being compromised.
    I list some thoughts and will explain as best I can:

    1. For the first time in 50 years I raced my birds on the deep litter format in a loft where the ventilation was good but not dust free.
    2. Because most of us have to treat our birds with anti-biotics for breathing especially, to keep them in peak condition for racing, a resistance to viral infections developed in the dust which I was inhaling over time. This inhalation definitely had an effect on me, especially with wide spectrum anti-biotics the brand names of which I am not at liberty to mention.
    Your body becomes immune to airborne infections which the pigeons carry from time to time, and especially when they mix with other racing pigeons in the race baskets.
    3. Many of the diseases which birds get, humans could also get especially breathing disorders affecting the lungs.
    4. If you can limit the use of Anti-biotics and still perform well…….then good. Be astute with administering treatments it will reduce your risk.
    5. keep your lofts as dust free as possible. It is not necessary to have closed up lofts to protect the birds from the COLD. Pigeons have very effective clothing and our God made certain that they can handle extreme weather. The only precaution one needs to take is that your birds do not sit in a cold draft. so where they sit on their perches must be as sheltered as possible. there must always be some movement of air in a well ventilated loft.
    If you can smell your birds ammonia filled droppings and the feather dust……..the ventilation needs to be corrected.
    6. I have re-thought pigeon lofts designs and I believe a concrete floor is best if it can be washed out twice a week to remove the accumulating fine powder from perches, floors and walls.
    7. When handling the birds make sure you wash your hands before touching your face and dust off your clothing such as dust coats. leave dusty clothes outside. wash them regularly.

    Enough for now on the lofts etc, of which the effectiveness is all tied up in the disciplines of keeping dust and exposure to a min.

    8. Regarding my experience with the wearing a mask I use Surgical paper masks (inexpensive) doubled up. The flow of air is still easy and they really are far less annoying than the conventional industrial type often recommended. They are reasonably effective but not totally particle free.

    Bottom line is this:

    1. If you have symptoms reduce dust in your lofts by effective dust management and loft design
    2. Wear a doubled up (2 0r more) surgical masks whenever you enter your lofts
    3. Administer anti-biotics cautiously for specific results.
    4. Treating the symptoms only will not give the desired results……….but tackling the causes is in my opinion the place to start……..the dust.

    Because there are so many varied experiences with this disease and there appears to be no quick fix for this problem, keep working at it and apply some of the suggestions made by other writers on this site who have suggested some exciting successes, and collectively we may get to the place where the symptoms are under control and enjoy our birds again.

  41. pigeonmania.com

    Hi Dennis, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know a few cases of people recently getting back to our beloved hobby and doing fine without PFL.

  42. carmel

    This is very informative and will keep in mind and tell my son to take precautions he already had a cough but not from the birds. As the birds are only recent and his constant throat clearing and cough has been around for 10 years. Drs say he is all clear.
    Thanks for all the infor.

  43. Dennis

    Hi Andrei.
    My symptoms are ………not always but sometimes upon entering the loft and being there feeding and handling the birds……..with a mask on…….I get a burny throat can sense a tightish sensation in my lungs. Anyone else have those symptoms??
    I have found that periodic use of 1x5mg tablet of Cortisone daily for three days twice a month does help with strengthening the lung tissue when symptoms manifest. Please do NOT do this unless discussed with your physician and you are sure you are NOT allergic to Cortisone. 5mg is very mild and as a hormonal steroid it does help your body fight back.

    I repeat: use caution and common sense before trying it. It works for me because I also experienced muscle cramps as well from time to time.

    good luck.

  44. Ross Kelly

    Evening all, I just happened to come across this site by chance after flicking though loft designs on the net, I’m a man of 31 years old suffered pfl (pigeon lung) 3 times, first time it affected me so bad I lost 2 stone in weight within 3weeks due to lack of energy, shortness of breath n the shakes which some of us get, it seemed that I got it pretty tough compared to others, anyway to cut a long story short I have now been in n out of hospital 3 times with pfl with bein in n out of the sport 3 times, I raced with a partner n his loft was closed in too much for me so that never helped, wat I did find out tho no matter how fit ya are pfl will put u down, I was at the peak of my fitness n playin first division football but yet pfl still put me down to the stage I could not even climb a flight of stairs without having to sit down half way up the stairs for a breath, yes seriously I was that bad for a fella in his teens, wat I have found now tho that with me putting on weight n bein in a well ventilated loft it don’t affect me now, so at the minute I’m in the middle of designing a new pigeon loft with hope to start racing next year again, so any ideas or tips that u have done with your lofts to prevent pfl coming back again I’m more than happy to hear from ya’s!!! For my loft design I’m thinking wire mesh floor with an open front n plenty of ventilation comin in and just a small team of pigeons to race…..hope to get some ideas from you folks.

    Ps excellent website keep up the good work….

  45. pigeonmania.com

    Hi. Wire floor mesh is the best, I have the same for PFL. The loft is at about 1/2 meter from the ground. Below the loft you will have to add a concrete “floor” because otherwise rats and mice will build nests there, since food from pigeons escapes through the wire floor. I didn’t have concrete at first and I got a ton of rats there.

    Now I even covered two sides of the space below the loft, leaving only a corridor from left to right of the loft, on the direction of the main winds of the area. Every few days a wind blows and takes out all the dust and bloom that falls from pigeons through the wire floor. Helps your health, pigeons health and also saves time cleaning the floors. You just have to take out the droppings fallen on the concrete floor every few months.

  46. Gary

    I was just told that I was allergic to pigeon droppings, I have had racing pigeons over seven years now. The info here was very helpful and I look forward to other post on this subject.

  47. Gary

    Hi, I reported to this group on August 8th that I had been diagnosed with an allergy to the pigeon droppings (racing pigeons for seven years). I just modified my loft I could not convert to grated floors so I made air vents along the bottom of the loft and installed a sky light ventilator in the roof of the loft, and wear a coverall suit, mask, and cap. I hope this helps out and will keep everyone informed. My symptoms are shortness of breath and wheezing.

  48. I’m concerned about my breathing and found this site
    I’m just in the presses of building a large loft and was thinking of using wooden roofing batons for the floor spacing them out every inch to give it good ventilation and also helps with the cleaning as the droppings will fall right out and the wind and my chickens will helps to move the droppings that fall out of the floor.
    But I’m a bit concerned about it getting to cold and damp in the loft for my pigeons. The weather is not that dry in UK!

  49. Ruby Sharon Barnes

    I am working as a Teacher in Dubai . I am fed up of having fever , bad cough so very often. I have a window AC which is infested with pigeons. Their cooing bugs me no end. The sound they make with their claws on the tin trolley which holds the AC irritates me even more. My doctor after asking me several interrogative questions got the answer as to why I was always going to here with these severe chest problems.
    I even get a skin allergy and the pigeon flees are bad . Could someone guide me as to how to get rid of this pigeon nuisance.

  50. jack dillon

    Hi Folks. Like everyone else here Iv’e had several bouts of PFL since re entering the sport over 10 years ago, I find the molting season to be the worst. When cleaning the loft I choose a dry breezy day when all the pigeons are flying out. I wear a 3M dust mask and hat and loft coat. Soon after the birds have flown out I spray the entire loft inside with a soapy disinfection mixed in a nap sack sprayer and with all the doors and hatches open to create an airy climate. This has a major effect on reducing the dust- bloom in the nest boxes and on the floor. I sometimes use a powerful loft hoover with an extra long hose that allows me to have the dust collector outside the loft.After two hours I let the pigeons in, and the loft is dry and the nest boxes have no lingering dust. Play it safe and wear a mask, plus hat and loft coat.

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