Silicosis Treatment in Bristol, VA
What is Silicosis?
Silica is a crystal-like mineral commonly found in sand, rock, and quartz that, when inhaled, could lead to a progressive lung disease known as silicosis and permanent lung scarring. Previously referred to as grinder's asthma, miner's phthisis, and potter's rot, silicosis disease is often labeled as an occupational hazard of various industries, including mining, stone masonry, and construction.
There are three different types of silicosis, and the development of each type is based on the amount of silica exposure over a given period of time:
- Acute silicosis: Symptoms may develop within a period of a few weeks and five years after short-term exposure to large quantities of silica and progress quickly.
- Chronic silicosis: The most common form of silicosis, symptoms develop 10-20 years after exposure to lower concentrations of silica dust.
- Accelerated silicosis: Symptoms appear quickly—in about 5-10 years—due to exposure to higher amounts of silica dust over a shorter period of time.
While there is no cure for silicosis, treatment is vital to alleviate symptoms and slow the disease's progression. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Bristol who specializes in silicosis treatment, call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
When silica dust is inhaled, the microscopic, glass-like particles cut into the lungs. The immune system responds to this irritation by causing swelling and inflammation. Over time, these microscopic cuts will scar and form hard tissue (fibrosis).
Professions that provide a higher risk of employees developing silicosis include:
- Asphalt or concrete production
- Glass manufacturing
- Ceramics work
- Stone masonry
- Mining, crushing, drilling or tunneling rock
Symptoms of silicosis may develop anywhere from a few weeks to many years after exposure to silica dust and worsen over time. The most common silicosis symptoms include dyspnea (shortness of breath), coughing, and fatigue.
Other signs of silicosis can include:
- Chest pain
- Weight gain
- Night sweats
- Nail abnormalities or blue tingled skin
Left untreated, silicosis can lead to tuberculosis (TB), as well as other complications, including:
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Progressive massive fibrosis (PMF)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
If you suspect you are suffering from silicosis, it is important to meet with a healthcare practitioner. Your provider will conduct a physical examination in which he or she will listen to your lungs and inquire about your exposure to silica dust.
Various tests to confirm a silicosis diagnosis and to determine the extent of lung damage include:
- Chest X-ray or a computerized tomography (CT) scan: These tests can detect scar tissue and silica in the lungs, and can also differentiate between acute, accelerated and chronic silicosis.
- Bronchoscopy: A thin, flexible tube with a camera is inserted down the throat to view lung tissue. A tissue sample may be taken for further lab study (biopsy).
- Pulmonary function test: A breathing test designed to measure how well the lungs inhale and exhale, and how effectively gases are exchanged through the body’s circulatory system.
Other diagnostic tests may be recommended to rule out other conditions which can affect the lungs, such as tuberculosis.
Silicosis Disease Treatment
Your silicosis treatment will depend on the type of silicosis you have and the extent of damage it has already caused to your lungs. Avoiding additional silica exposure and other lung irritants is an important first step to prevent the disease from worsening. To do so, you will need to avoid the area of exposure and limit your contact with environmental toxins, smoke, and allergens. If the source of silica is in your workplace, you may need to consider an occupational change.
Medications such as cough medicine can relieve symptoms, and antibiotics can be prescribed for respiratory infections. Inhaled steroids can also be used to reduce sputum production. Because silicosis carries a high risk of developing TB, anti-TB medication can be prescribed if a skin test comes back positive for the disease. Additionally, vaccines for the flu and pneumonia can help slow the progression of silicosis.
A whole lung lavage may be recommended in both acute and chronic cases in which your lung is filled with a saline solution and then drained to clear particles from the air spaces.
If urgent care is needed, oxygen can be delivered to support breathing and replenish low-oxygenated blood. If your silicosis is severe, you may require a lung transplant.
Silicosis disease can affect your quality of life, including everything from how you work to how well you breathe. Thankfully, there is treatment available to relieve symptoms, slow the disease's progression, and prevent other illnesses caused by the condition from occurring. To make an appointment with a silicosis specialist in Bristol, call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
Address1604 Lamons Lane
Johnson City, TN 37604
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm