Breathing difficulties in wind instrument players

Md Med J. 1998 Jan;47(1):23-7.


Performance of a wind instrument requires appreciable lung volume and diaphragmatic mechanical force, skilled breath control, adequate patency and humidity of air passages, and precise coordination of the oropharyngeal cavity. Depending on the instrument class, variable rates of air flow, pressure, and duration are necessary to produce optimal tone quality. Wind players may be seriously impaired by respiratory diseases that, comparatively, might appear trivial to the nonperformer. The workplace environment should be assessed for occupational hazards when managing these patients, and smoking should be particularly discouraged. Controversy exists implicating wind instrument use in the exacerbation of respiratory disease, including bronchial, laryngeal, pharyngeal, and oral anatomic changes--a result of the constant barotrauma of performance. Asthma is the most common chronic pulmonary disorder among wind players, and therapeutic programs that include breath training and physical exercise improve symptoms, endurance, and general well-being.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pressure
  • Asthma / complications
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Occupational Diseases / complications*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / complications*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology