University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., and Jill Poole, M.D., appeared live June 13 on RFD-TV's "Rural America Live" show to discuss allergy and lung issues in farming.

Dr. Poole is a professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy. She also is medical director of allergy and immunology for Nebraska Medicine, UNMC’s hospital partner. She grew up in Grand Island, Neb.

The broadcast recently aired and focused on:

Allergies and asthma related to farming;
Ways to prevent allergy and asthma reactions;
Tests and treatments for allergies and asthma;
Trends in the incidence of respiratory disease.
To watch the show, go to "Rural America Live" is produced by RFD-TV. Find RFD-TV on local television providers.

Here is a link to the soundbites transcribed below.

Jill Poole, M.D., talks about the increase in allergies in Americans and rural Americans


22 seconds

“On the whole, we’ve seen a steep rise in allergies over the last 20-30 years with prevalence of up to 50 percent of Americans. In rural areas, we’ve also seen a rise in allergies. There’s about 20-30 percent of farmers will have allergic disease and that is allergic disease that we can test for and find that they’re positive for.”


Jill Poole, M.D., talks about how rural environments have unique allergens


23 seconds

“Interesting, not all farmers have allergies but that doesn’t mean they don’t have symptoms. There’s a lot of nasal symptoms, sinus symptoms, and respiratory problems like coughing, sputum production, wheezing and chest tightness and that has also been on the rise. There’s lots of exposures in the rural environment that you don’t see in the urban environments.”


Jill Poole, M.D., talks about things in the farming community that trigger allergic symptoms


56 seconds

“There’s organic dust that you’re going to see in like grain elevators and the animal confinement facilities, whether it’s poultry, dairy, swine. These large confinement facilities that can house hundreds if not thousands of animals generate a lot of dust. And what’s unique about that is there’s lots of bacteria from the animals whether it’s their nasal secretions or from their skin, from their feces, their urine. So there’s a lot of bacteria and there’s also a lot of mold. And those are unique exposures because they can be quite inflammatory. They can even be toxic to the respiratory system. Depending on other environments, like the outdoors, there’s exposure to pesticides and that can also trigger symptoms. If you already have disease, these exposures will really make your allergic respiratory disease worse.”


Jill Poole, M.D., talks about allergic reactions farmers should watch out for


35 seconds

“If the farmer is experiencing any of these symptoms like fevers, chest tightness, cough, shortness of breath, they really need to seek immediate care. If somebody already has those symptoms but has never been evaluated and thinking about going into the farming environment, it would be great to be evaluated before the exposure so we can have a baseline readings of their lung function and baseline of what their allergies are so we can take preventive methods to prevent them from having worsening disease.”


Jill Poole, M.D., talks about the lack of use of masks


20 seconds

“We know that the respiratory protective devices – the masks – are not used. Less than 10 percent -- probably less than 5% wear a mask. Some will even consider a bandana or a handkerchief as a respiratory protective device which clearly it is not.”


Jill Poole, M.D., talks about the potential hazards of grain smut or grain rot from a lot of rain or flooding


27 seconds

“The farmer’s lung is that exposure that can cause chronic and even debilitating lung disease if the exposure persists. If it’s caught early and you really remove yourself from the exposure, there are things like steroids and medications that can be used to treat. It’s really best to catch it early. Catching it late there’s less we can do for this disease.”


Jill Poole, M.D., talks about the potential of vitamin D supplementation to reduce inflammation from being exposed to some bacteria on the farm


40 seconds

“We’ve done studies with vitamin D supplementation and although it’s not a cure all, it can help reduce the inflammatory response to these bacterial exposures that one is getting at the farm exposure. And the other things that can help are things like the Omega 3 fatty acids or the fish oils. Those also are anti-inflammatories and can help reduce the inflammation from the mold and the bacterial exposure and is something that is relatively easy to incorporate in addition to the over-the-counter therapies which is the nasal spray and the antihistamine pills.”


Jill Poole, M.D., talks about screening for exposure of agricultural-related allergies


27 minutes

“It’s really simple and it’s easy to get what we call spirometry or lung function test – or just simply called a breathing test. All you’re going to be doing is blowing into a tube, blowing out and then it can measure how much lung volume you were able to blow out. The lung function test takes maybe 15 minutes at most.”