Silicosis – an occupational lung disease

The most common causes of a disease in a person are such common risk factors as weakened immunity, poor heredity, infection with viruses or bacteria. But there is a group of specific diseases for which the listed factors are not fundamental. These are diseases associated with a person’s professional activities, or rather, with negative conditions in which a person has to work.

Silicosis is one of such ailments. The disease occurs as a result of prolonged inhalation of air saturated with dust with an increased content of free silicon dioxide. The risk group for the development of silicosis includes people employed in engineering, mining, porcelain industry, metallurgy and some other industries.

Symptoms of silicosis

At the initial stage, the disease practically does not bother a person, since its symptoms are sparingly, implicitly. The primary signs of silicosis include:

– shortness of breath, worse when doing physical work;

– pains that occur periodically in the chest;

– “hard” breathing, wheezing;

– a rare, mild, dry cough;

– the allocation of a small amount of sputum.

As the disease progresses, the symptoms of silicosis become brighter. So, shortness of breath appears not only during physical exertion, but also at rest. The pain syndrome becomes much stronger. The cough remains dry, but becomes frequent and angry.

Concomitant diseases soon join the main pathology. Silicosis is usually accompanied by diseases such as bronchial asthma, bronchiectasis or chronic bronchitis, as evidenced by the increased amount of sputum being separated.

The acute form of silicosis is characterized by intense onset of symptoms. Chest pain becomes almost constant, there is a feeling of constriction of the chest, the patient is constantly tormented by an anguished cough with copious sputum, cyanosis appears. In some neglected cases, a person may begin hemoptysis, there are problems associated with the cardiovascular system.

If one does not exclude the patient’s contact with silicon-quartz dust at this stage, a hypertrophic process begins to develop in the lungs, leading to a change in the structure of the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract.

Silicosis treatment

The course of silicosis, in contrast to other occupational pulmonary pathologies, is generally favorable. However, it is worth noting that the treatment of this disease is often difficult due to a violation of the full functioning of the respiratory system, as well as due to the development of the tuberculosis process. In addition, in the acute form of silicosis, concomitant diseases and associated pathologies do not stop developing even in the event of complete cessation of patient contact with silicon dioxide, thereby causing various complications.

Thus, the first step in the treatment of a disease such as pulmonary silicosis is the exclusion of patient contact with silicon dust. Then he is prescribed special therapeutic exercises and oxygen inhalation.

Drug therapy at this period is not carried out. Moreover, patients are not recommended to take antihypertensive and sedative drugs.

Bronchodilators are prescribed only in the presence of obstructive syndrome. In acute silicosis, patients undergo bronchoalveolar lavage. If a concomitant tuberculosis process is detected, anti-TB drugs are prescribed to patients – Isoniazid, rifampicin, etc.


Severe pulmonary silicosis is not limited to medication and physiotherapy. In the case of massive fibrosis, surgical treatment is required – surgical intervention, involving lung transplantation.

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