Silicosis is a long-term lung disease caused by inhaling large amounts of crystalline silica dust, usually over many years. Silica is a substance naturally found in certain types of stone, rock, sand and clay. Working with these materials can create a very fine dust that can be easily inhaled.

How do you get silicosis?

Silicosis is an interstitial lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a common mineral found in many types of rock and soil. Over time, exposure to silica particles causes permanent lung scarring, called pulmonary fibrosis.

What are the first signs of silicosis?

Symptoms of silicosis usually appear after many years of exposure. In early stages, symptoms are mild and include cough, sputum and progressive shortness of breath. As the scarring continues to worsen, the first real signs of a problem may be an abnormal chest X-ray and a slowly developing cough.

Who is at risk for silicosis?

Who is at risk for silicosis? Factory, mine, and masonry workers are at the greatest risk for silicosis because they deal with silica in their work. People who work in the following industries are at greatest risk: asphalt manufacturing.

How does silica cause silicosis?

Silicosis is caused by breathing in high concentrations of silica dust, usually over many years. Shorter periods of more intense exposure may also cause silicosis. When silica dust enters the lungs, it causes the formation of scar tissue, which makes it difficult for the lungs to take in oxygen.

Can you survive silicosis?

There’s no cure for silicosis because the lung damage can’t be reversed. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. The condition may continue to get worse, leading to further lung damage and serious disability, although this may happen very slowly over many years.

What are the stages of silicosis?

There are three major types of silicosis: acute, chronic, and accelerated. Acute Silicosis occurs after a few months or as long as 2 years after exposures to extremely high concentrations. Signs and symptoms of acute silicosis include shortness of breath, weakness, fever, cough, and weight loss.

How easy is it to get silicosis?

It is possible to get silicosis from one exposure to a massive concentration of crystalline silica dust without a respirator. This condition is the rarest form of the disease and is called acute silicosis.

Will a chest xray show silicosis?

The chest radiograph is a relatively insensitive and nonspecific tool for diagnosing pneumoconiosis, because silicosis and CWP are virtually indistinguishable on radiologic studies. In addition, the results may cause underestimation or overestimation of the extent of disease.

What is the life expectancy of someone with silicosis?

The survival times of silicosis stage I , II and III, from the year of diagnosis to death, were 21.5, 15.8 and 6.8 years, respectively. There was 25 % of the silicosis patients whose survival time was beyond 33 y. The mean death age of all silicosis cases was 56.0 y.

What are the chances of getting silicosis?

A recent study of pottery workers found high rates of silicosis, up to 20%, among workers with an average exposure of 0.2 mg/m3 over many years.

What is the treatment for silicosis?

There is no specific treatment for silicosis. Removing the source of silica exposure is important to prevent the disease from getting worse. Supportive treatment includes cough medicine, bronchodilators, and oxygen if needed. Antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory infections as needed.

Are symptoms of silicosis obvious?

Silicosis typically occurs after 15–20 years of occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms may or may not be obvious; therefore, workers need to have a chest x-ray to determine if there is lung damage. As the disease progresses, the worker may experience shortness of breath upon exercising.

Can lungs clear silica dust?

Our lungs have ways to remove some of the dust we breathe in, such as coughing or bringing up phlegm. However, the fine particles can become trapped and cause irritation. In response, immune system cells called macrophages unsuccessfully try to clear the dust particles by engulfing and dissolving them.

Does exercise help silicosis?

Some studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms in those with Silicosis. However, it is well established that routine exercise can significantly benefit mental illness management, improving psychological wellbeing through positive neurochemical changes.

Do lungs clean themselves of dust?

Besides macrophages, the lungs have another system for the removal of dust. The lungs can react to the presence of germ-bearing particles by producing certain proteins. These proteins attach to particles to neutralize them. Dusts are tiny solid particles scattered or suspended in the air.

Is silicosis always fatal?

Yes, silicosis can be fatal. This respiratory disease is caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust, which produces inflammation and scarring when it settles into the lungs. As time passes, this scarring causes the lungs to stiffen.

Can a lung transplant cure silicosis?

Our study demonstrated that selected patients with end-stage silicosis can benefit from lung transplantation.

What jobs can cause silicosis?

Jobs that are known to expose workers to inhaled silica include those in: Mining; Construction; Masonry; Sandblasting; Glass manufacturing; Quarrying; and. Ceramics.

How do you clean dust out of your lungs?

Ways to clear the lungs Steam therapy. Steam therapy, or steam inhalation, involves inhaling water vapor to open the airways and help the lungs drain mucus. Controlled coughing. Drain mucus from the lungs. Exercise. Green tea. Anti-inflammatory foods. Chest percussion.

How is silicosis prevented?

The key to preventing silicosis is to keep dust out of the air. Dust controls can be as simple as a water hose to wet the dust before it becomes airborne. Use the following methods to control respirable crystalline silica: Use the dust collection systems available for many types of dust-generating equipment.

Do dust masks protect against silica?

A: Disposable filtering facepiece respirators (dust masks) will not protect the worker from crystalline silica exposure during sandblasting. In addition, a properly operated and maintained approved abrasive blasting respirator may provide adequate protection to the wearer.

How much silica does it take to get silicosis?

Because silicosis is caused by cumulative or repeated exposure to respirable crystalline silica, it makes sense that we would want to limit exposure as much as possible! OSHA has set the Personal Exposure Limit (PEL) at 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8 hour shift.

How common is acute silicosis?

In the United States, more than one million people have been exposed to crystalline silica and are at risk of developing silicosis. There are three clinical types of silicosis. The first is chronic silicosis, which is the most common form of the disease.