Farmer’s lung

An occupational disease affecting the lungs of farm workers. Farmer’s lung is a type of allergic alveolitis, in which affected people develop hypersensitivity to certain moulds that grow on hay, grain, or straw. Symptoms develop about 6 hours after exposure to dust containing fungal spores and include shortness of breath, headache, fever, and muscle aches. In acute attacks, the symptoms last for about a day. Repeated exposure to spores may lead to a chronic form of the disease, causing permanent scarring of lung tissues. Diagnosis of farmer’s lung may involve a chest X-ray, pulmonary function tests, and blood tests for a specific antibody. Corticosteroid drugs will relieve the symptoms. Further exposure to the spores of the fungus should be avoided. (See also fibrosing alveolitis.)


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