Silica & Silicosis

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Silicosis, formerly termed Stonemason's Disease, is a lung disease contracted by individuals at risk due to occupational hazards. Silicosis is not as widespread as it was in the past, but is still a danger to individuals exposed to the fine dust created by working with stone materials.

Silica dust has an irreversible effect on the lungs. Once inhaled and met by the lungs, the lungs become inflamed. As time and exposure progresses, the lungs thicken and scar tissue is formed.

There are several forms of silicosis, the most common of which is chronic silicosis. Chronic silicosis develops over years of exposure and may only result in minor breathing difficulties. It can, however, progress and advance to become more debilitating.

Complicated silicosis is marked by noticeable shortness in breath, weight loss and extensive scar tissue on the lungs. Tuberculosis is a risk with this form of silicosis.

Accelerated silicosis looks much like the complicated form but can appear within five to ten years, much earlier than the chronic form.

Acute silicosis appears within a couple of years after exposure and is accompanied by great weight loss and constant shortness of breath. Individuals suffering from acute silicosis are at a higher risk for tuberculosis.

Aside from tuberculosis, silica exposure has been linked to several other diseases . Other diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lung cancer and heart attacks. While all individuals may not contract these additional diseases, they may be at risk due to silicosis.

Symptoms that lead to diagnosis include shortness in breath and a chronic cough. Individuals may also suffer from sleep problems, weight loss, fever and chest pains. These are usually more common with acute silicosis.

A doctor will diagnose silicosis by taking a detailed medical history, including information about possible exposure and the extent of silica exposure. An x-ray will show any fibrosis in the lungs, and a breathing test will help determine lung function. Additional tests may be performed.

There is no cure for silicosis. Treatment includes management of symptoms and lifestyle changes to prevent infection. Individuals may take medications that help clear the bronchial tubes. Steam treatments may help open air passages as well. Individuals with silicosis are guided to quit smoking if applicable. It is also suggested patients avoid crowds to limit air-borne infections as well as keep contact with sick family members or friends to a minimum. Doctors may suggest daily exercise and flu and pneumonia vaccinations.

Make sure to take action if you or someone you love was injured by silicosis or silicosis-related health problems. You may be entilted to a financial settlement from those responsible, but if you wait too long you risk losing your right to justice due to statute of limitation time restrictions. Contact our silicosis attorneys today, and breathe easier tomorrow.


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