Silicosis is a disabling lung disease caused by the inhalation of crystalline-sized silica dust. People who work in the fields of construction, mining, sandblasting or other jobs with exposure to mineral-based ores are at risk for developing silicosis. Silicosis can often be fatal.

Types of Silicosis

The three types of silicosis are:

  • Chronic silicosis
  • Accelerated silicosis
  • Acute silicosis

Causes of Silicosis

Silicosis is caused by the inhalation of crystalline-sized silica dust which can be found in some of the following:

  • Soil
  • Sand blasting
  • Masonry work
  • Mining
  • Demolition
  • Drilling rock
  • Granite
  • Cement and asphalt paving
  • Other types of rock

Symptoms of Silicosis

Symptoms of silicosis may include:

  • Swelling of the lungs
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tuberculosis
  • Scleroderma
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
  • Fibrosis of the lung
  • Chronic cough
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Diagnosis of Silicosis

Silicosis is diagnosed by a physical examination and a review of the patients medical history. An additional series of diagnostic tests may be conducted, such as:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Tuberculosis skin test
  • Blood test

Treatment of Silicosis

There is no cure for silicosis. Treatment of the condition is focused on relieving the symptoms and the use of antibiotics to treat infections that may occur as a result. Treatment methods may include:

  • Cough medicine
  • Oxygen
  • Bronchodilators
  • Limiting further exposure to silica

Additional Resources