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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Farmer’s Lung: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Have you heard of a disease called Farmer’s lung? Farmer’s lung is so-called because the disease is commonly found to affect the lungs of the farmer. Farmer’s, when they are attacked by various allergens like mold spores, dust, straw, or grain can cause severe allergic reactions leading to serious respiratory hazards.

What is Farmer’s lung?

Farmer’s lung disease is a non-infectious allergic lung disease and is a type of hypersensitivity pneumonitis that is caused by inhaling mold spores present in the air from moldy hay, straw, or grain. The disease is found to disrupt the normal functioning of the lungs which involves inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide.


  1. Sudden shortness of breath

  2. Chronic cough and lung congestion.

  3. A general feeling of tiredness.

  4. Tightness in the chest

The symptoms are similar to acute bronchitis, which is classified as J20 under ICD-10 code for acute bronchitis. The code is a medical classification of the diseases of the respiratory system.

What Causes Farmer’s Lung disease?

Farmer’s lung is an allergic reaction to tiny particles that are suspended in the air. These small particles when inhaled can give rise to farmer’s lungs. Some of these particles include:

  1. Animal dander

  2. Pollen grains

  3. Moldy hay or straws

  4. Bird droppings

  5. Feathers

  6. Fungal spores

  7. Husks

  8. Insects

  9. Wood particles


Diagnosing a farmer’s lung disease is most of the time mistaken with flu and asthma. In such a case it’s important for the person to explain to the doctor that you are a farmer and have come in contact with moldy hay. Other diagnostic tests your doctor may recommend to find out if you have farmer’s lung include:

  1. Pulmonary function test: This test measures how well your lungs function. The test reveals how much air you inhale and exhale.

  2. Bronchoscopy: This is a technique used to look at the airways and lungs. The doctor may also sample fluid for testing. You will be under the influence of anesthesia throughout the whole process.

  3. Lung Biopsy: A tissue sample may be collected from your lungs for further lab tests.


Farmer’s lung disease has no cure and there is only prevention for this disease. You can control the disease by

  1. Avoiding tasks that involve too much exposure to dust.

  2. Wear a piece of protective equipment or mask.

  3. Use filters, exhaust, blowers, and fans wherever you can.

Your doctor may prescribe you some medications that can help with your symptoms. These medications include steroid drugs like prednisone which helps with inflammation by slowing down your immune system.

Azathioprine is also prescribed as an immunosuppressant in case steroids won’t work.

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