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In agriculture it's not just machinery which presents a danger to health, there are diseases that farmers are susceptible to due to their exposure to certain substances. Farmer's lung is one such issue for farmers and agricultural workers.

The team of personal injury solicitors at Seth Lovis & Co has assisted in many industrial disease claims, including those associated with the agricultural sector, to ensure workers receive the compensation they are entitled to. To find out more about our services please click here.

What is farmer's lung?

Referred to by medical professionals as extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA) or hypersensitivity pneumonitis, farmer's lung is a nonspecific name to describe non-infectious disease caused by the inhalation of harmful spores. Farmers are particularly vulnerable to this condition due to the handling of hay, straw and grain; three materials which are known to give off these damaging micro-organisms.

When the spores from mouldy materials are inhaled they have a debilitating effect which eventually leads to poor function of the lungs. Despite being unseen by the naked eye, the spores and the damage they do are often the reason why many farmers are forced to retire from their occupation early.

Unlike toxic organic dust syndrome (TODS), farmer's lung is an allergic disease, and whilst the circumstances surrounding the development of both conditions are similar, the symptoms and treatment options differ.

Who is most at risk of farmer's lung?

At some point, most farmers or agricultural workers may work in environments where dust and mould spores are present, but some will be more at risk than others. Those working in dusty fields or buildings, handling hay, working around silos, applying agricultural fertilisers and pesticides, or utilising feedstuffs are deemed more at risk of contracting a respiratory illness.

Do I have farmer's lung?

Symptoms of farmer's lung include:

    • Breathlessness
    • Headaches
    • Irritating or chronic coughing
    • Physical weakness
    • Fever and increased temperature
    • Loss of appetite

Seeking treatment

In many circumstances farmer's lung is initially misdiagnosed as a GP may mistake its symptoms for that of flu, asthma or pneumonia. However, once correctly diagnosed appropriate treatment can be sought.

Whilst farmer's lung cannot be cured, the uncomfortable and troubling symptoms can be controlled with medication. Avoiding contact with hay, straw, grain or feedstuffs may also help to remedy symptoms. Chronic farmer's lung however can result in permanent damage if not diagnosed until a late stage.

Am I entitled to compensation?

All workers should be trained in the handling of harmful or dangerous substances and employers must mitigate risk by offering personal protective clothing. If your employer did not protect you from the risk of respiratory disease, you may be able to claim damages.

As specialists in industrial disease compensation, we can assist and represent you in your farmer's lung claim.

Whatever the severity of your condition, if you have suffered as a result of the illness, please talk to our team today by calling 0808 252 0678.

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