Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Farmer's Lung

By Richard P. Holm MD

We call it the "South Dakota syndrome", said the Mayo Clinic kidney specialist to a room full of doctors at a conference on the intensive care patient.

I think I was the only South Dakotan there; it was some 1200 miles away. 

"These SD farmers wait until they are next to death from kidney failure and appear at the Mayo Clinic with words like: "I'm feeling a little weak lately but I don't want to complain"" he said.

As I heard this I was both a little proud and yet very dismayed. We don't want to look like whiners around here.

The problem with this denial and cover-up is that not only do we lose the opportunity to diagnose a medical problem early, but often precautions are not taken which could prevent a lot of trouble later. 

This goes for all systems of our body: the kidney, the brain, the heart, the colon, the skin and the hearing. 

But this is especially true for the farmer's lung. Here's the take home message: Don't cover up symptoms. If your cough lasts longer than 2 weeks, go in and see your doctor.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don't go into that silo or pit when you shouldn't, avoid unnecessary exposure to toxins and dust, and I can't stress this point enough; wear a mask! 

I would rather the South Dakota syndrome mean we are a bunch of hard working but careful people who live long and are able to enjoy a full and easy breathing retirement someday.

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