What Are the Symptoms of PAP?

The symptoms of PAP can vary and may be non-specific. Many of the symptoms are similar to other lung diseases such as asthma, pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The most common symptom of PAP is shortness of breath, also called dyspnea. Other symptoms include:

  • Cough 
  • Cyanosis (bluish skin and fingernails)
  • Clubbing (changes in the nails on your fingers and/or toes)
  • Inspiratory crackles (popping sound heard when you inhale)

Symptoms that are less common include hemoptysis (coughing up blood), fever, chest pain, and fatigue. Approximately one third of patients may have no symptoms when first presenting with PAP.

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

Diagnosing PAP can be delayed because the symptoms are similar to other diseases, and it is incredibly rare. It is important to see your healthcare provider when noticing unexplained shortness of breath which is the most common symptom of PAP. Alert your healthcare provider if you have any of the other symptoms associated with PAP.

How PAP Is Diagnosed

Your healthcare provider may order several tests to confirm if you have PAP. 

  • Chest X-ray/Chest CT : Imaging of your lungs may show opacities, or hazy areas, with a “crazy paving” pattern in your lungs that may indicate PAP.
  • Blood Testing: Can determine if you have aPAP, the most common form of PAP, by measuring the level of the GM-CSF antibodies in your blood. There is a free, simple GM-CSF autoantibody blood test available called aPAP ClearPath that can confirm or rule out if you have aPAP. You can ask your healthcare provider about this test and learn more by contacting the Lung HelpLine.
  • Genetic Testing: Determines if you have hereditary, or genetic, PAP.
  • Bronchoscopy with Bronchoalveolar Lavage: A minimally invasive technique used to collect a sample of fluid from the lungs for testing; often considered the gold standard for diagnosis.
  • Lung biopsy: Tissue from your lungs is removed for examination.
  • Pulmonary (Lung) Function Tests: Your healthcare provider may order a pulmonary function test to see how well your lungs are working.  This does not determine if you have PAP.
Graphic detailing that if you have symptoms that are similar to other lung conditions that are not responding to treatment and you have an abnormal CT scan, then you should suspect aPAP

Page last updated: March 5, 2024

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