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Farmer's Lungs

What is Farmer's Lung?

Farmer's lung is a type of allergic pneumonia specifically associated with breathing air in areas of hay, grain or silage that are contaminated with various molds or heat-tolerant bacteria.

Farmer's lung is not limited to farmers. Anyone who is in a home or office with poor air handling maintenance can also develop Farmer's lung.

If you believe you have Farmer's lung, contact your doctor. Sometimes Farmer's lung is mistaken for pneumonia or other chest conditions.

Farmer's Lung is also called extrinsic allergic alveolitis or hypersensitivity alveolitis.

What are the Symptoms of Farmer's Lung?

Symptoms of Farmer's lung usually appear after working with moldy hay for several months of years.

The most common symptoms of Farmer's lung are:

  • Increased coughing and mucus production
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in the lungs
  • Tightness and/or pains in the chest

Individuals with Farmer's lung usually experience more severe symptoms during the winter months. Symptoms are more severe during the winter months because:

  1. The mold spores have more time to grow in the confined area that the hay is kept in.
  2. The mold spores stay in the air inside a closed barn.

Who can get Farmer's Lung?

Anyone who is allergic to the hay mold spores and breathes air filled with hay mold spores.

What Causes Farmer's Lung?

Farmer's lung is caused by an allergic reaction to the mold that grows on baled hay. Fresh hay does not cause farmer's lung.

Can Farmer's Lung be Treated?

Yes. Treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms. The main cure is to stay totally away from hay mold spores. If the individual is unable to stay away from the mold spores, after several years, the person may not be able to perform their regular duties. In severe cases, Farmer's lung is fatal.

How to Minimize the Effects of Moldy Hay

  1. Use a milking parlor to keep feeding separate, and have someone else to feed the herd.
  2. Use a free stall or open barn system along with excellent barn ventilation.
  3. Feed haylage.
  4. Use mold inhibitors.

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