We studied 41 subjects with a history of farmer's lung disease who had been free of acute episodes for at least one year. Twenty-six were still in daily contact with hay (group 1), and 15 had ceased all antigenic exposure (group 2). While the incidence of dyspnea was similar in both groups, coughing and sputum were more frequent in group 1. Inspiratory crackles were frequent in group 1 subjects (15 of 26) and absent in all group 2 subjects. In both groups, a high percentage of lymphocytes was demonstrated by bronchoalveolar lavage: 52.5%±21.1% (mean±SD) and 26.3%±18.7%, respectively. Lymphocytic alveolitis (>22% lymphocytes) was more common in group 1(23 of 26) than in group 2(6 of 15). There was no relationship between functional abnormalities and the intensity of the alveolitis. We conclude that lymphocytic alveolitis may persist after an acute episode of farmer's lung disease, but the intensity of the alveolitis is not associated with functional alterations.
(Arch Intern Med 1986;146:153-157)