Silicosis, a Disease Caused by Sand Dust

Silicosis is a chronic occupational lung disease that occurs in workers in mines, quarries of stone, metallurgy, porcelain and glass industry etc, after prolonged inhalation of silica dust. Silicosis is characterized by progressive and intense fibrosis complications being relatively common with pulmonary tuberculosis.

Occurrence of silicosis is caused by a high concentration of dust inhaled for a long exposure time (5 – 25 years). Usually, silicosis is discovered during radiological examinations practiced in workers exposed less often as a result of functional disorders that cause (cough, dyspnea, and sputum) or acute complications (hemoptysis or spontaneous pneumothorax).

Silicosis – symptoms

Most times, silicosis is discovered during periodical radiological examinations in workers exposed to such danger and less because of disturbances they cause, such as cough, shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, hemoptysis (coughing blood).

Physical signs appear later and are discrete. Doctors say that evolution is slow and gradual, even if the patient is not anymore exposed to sand dust. Complications can occur, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, respiratory failure. Also, pulmonary tuberculosis is one of the most serious complications that may arise. Clinical form is called silicotuberculosis and appears in advanced stages of silicosis.

Evolution is slow and progressive. If the disease occurs, its evolution continues, even if the patient is removed from the work area.

Silicosis can develop in three forms: chronic, subacute and acute. Chronic forms may be simple or complicated.

In subacute form are predominant symptoms of heart lung disease with hypoxemia.

Silicosis – complications

Silicosis may be complicated by:

Silicosis – prevention

Silicosis is a very serious disease, and because of that should given special attention to prophylaxis. First, it requires proper working conditions, according to current regulations, which stipulate the reduction or replacement of silicon dioxide by introducing improved working methods (wet perforation, sweep blasting with wet sandy, insulation measures in production processes). Prevention is also based on mandatory exam for employment, regular preventive medical checks etc. and in particular, on the removal of patients diagnosed in early stages from the silicone environment.

Smokers with silicosis should be very careful, because the lung is very sensitive after removal of silicon. Also, silica dust (the miners) is favorable for the production of lung tuberculosis. The combination of silicosis and tuberculosis is silicotuberculosis, and is very resistant to treatment.

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