Fanning exposes farmers, farm workers and others involved in agricultural processes to many irritants and allergens that may trigger asthma symptoms. Agricultural asthma is a form of work-related asthma. The incidence of occupational asthma in Ontario farm workers is estimated to be from four to thirty per cent. This estimate may be low, as many cases go unreported. In this section, Agricultural Asthma Diggers, we have organized the information according to the most common types of fanning in Canada. Work with your patient to identify potential triggers. It is also important to consider common triggers (listed in other sections) and seasonal variables that could be contributing to symptoms.
Helping your patient to manage agricultural asthma will have special challenges in many cases. While some of the avoidance strategies are fairly simple, many are costly and involve the hiring of expert services for consultation, installation and training. For the most part, the work is time-sensitive and cannot be delayed or delegated to others. Often farmers and farm workers do not have the same resources that workers in other sectors have to facilitate and support change. Help your patient to identify community agencies and associations that can provide information and assistance.
Ideally, by the time you get to this last section of the guide, you and your patient have been able to identify the triggers that are potentially exacerbating his or her asthma symptoms. In this section, Special Considerations, we have included some extra information for you to think about. Although limited, this information is intended to remind you that further assessment of any potential contributing fac-tors may be necessary. Again, sometimes the evidence is not compelling and can be controversial; however, it is up to us, as health care providers to make good use of both the scientific data available, as well as the collective wisdom and experience of good practice. We encourage you to seek more information and/or expert advice about any of these special considerations that may be pertinent to your patient.