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Farmer's lung disease


Farmer's lung disease is a disease belonging to the family of interstitial lung diseases, due to the presence of inflammation of the interstitial tissue. This is an allergic reaction caused by inhaling spores of actinomycetes, mainly present in moldy hay. Other fairly similar forms are found in mushroom cultivators or in other professions such as cheese cultivators or bird breeders. The cessation of exposure to the causative agent usually proves to be favorable if the disease is not too advanced, but exposure that is too prolonged leads to fibrosis of the lungs, causing a chronic respiratory failure and ultimately heart failure.


The symptoms of Farmer's lung disease are:
  • signs occurring a few hours after exposure to the allergen with a dry cough, which can cause breathing difficulties and sometimes fever;
  • after prolonged exposure, the disease becomes chronic with persistent and progressive worsening of these signs:
    • dry cough initially triggered by stress;
    • difficulty breathing, initially due to intense physical effort, but then even for smaller efforts, and at rest;
    • rarely, a bluish discoloration of the skin following physical exertion;
    • coughing up blood at an advanced stage.


The diagnosis of farmer's lung disease is strongly based on the context, including the line of work performed by the patient, or the notion of frequent contact with certain elements. A bronchoscopy, passing a type of camera in the airways to the lungs, allow for a visual analysis of the lungs. Removed alveolar fluid will be studied and will show an increased presence of lymphocytes. A chest X-ray will also be practiced and show small round darker areas in the lungs. A CT scan can confirm the existence of small nodules and sometimes enlarged lymph nodes.


The treatment of Farmer's lung disease is the cessation of exposure to the causative agent. Acute forms of the disease can be cured without treatment, while more advanced forms sometimes require treatment with cortisone.


To prevent Farmer's lung disease, it is important for the farmer to change the working conditions in which he works. Sometimes a temporary sick leave is essential.

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