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Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia (ELP)

What is exogenous lipoid pneumonia?

Exogenous lipoid pneumonia (ELP) is a rare form of pneumonia, and it is the result of aspirating or inhaling fatty substances. 

What are the symptoms of exogenous lipoid pneumonia?

The symptoms of this condition can vary from person to person and vary in severity. In fact, some people may not experience symptoms at all. The common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chronic cough
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Issues swallowing

It is important to seek treatment, as a severe case of ELP can cause permanent lung damage. 

What causes exogenous lipoid pneumonia?

ELP occurs when one aspirates or inhales a fatty substance. When this substance reaches the lungs, they become inflamed. Things that can cause ELP include oils found in food, medications and nasal drops that are based in oil, petroleum jelly, oil based laxatives, kerdan, oils from e-cigarettes, and oils used at work or home. 

Risk factors also exist for this condition: snorting oil-based drugs, disorders that affect the swallow reflex, GERD, forced oil intake, oil pulling, age, abnormalities of the throat and esophagus, psychiatric disorders, and using mineral oil as a laxative.  

How is exogenous lipoid pneumonia diagnosed?

A physical exam is the first step in diagnosing ELP, which is usually followed by a chest X-ray. While these two things are usually enough to obtain a diagnosis, other tests may be used like CT scans, pulmonary function tests, bronchoscopies, and needle aspiration biopsies. 

What are the treatments for exogenous lipoid pneumonia?

Treatment depends on the symptoms present and their severity. For most cases, stopping exposure to the fatty substance is typically enough. For others anti-inflammatory medications are needed. Oxygen therapy, respiratory therapy, and whole lung lavages may be used as well. 

Where can I find out more about exogenous lipoid pneumonia?

ELP Articles