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Silicosis

When you’re facing a devastating condition like silicosis, you need an experienced and knowledgeable law firm on your side. James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. has years of experience gathering evidence and winning claims for victims and family members when workplace exposure has led to the development of deadly diseases.

What is Silicosis?

Silicosis is a lung disorder that develops when fibrous scar tissue and nodules develop in the lungs after being exposed to silica dust. Silica dust may be inhaled in combination with concrete dust if it contains silica particles. Silica dust becomes trapped in sacs in the lungs that are responsible for air exchange causing scarring and stiffening of the lungs.

There are two forms of silicosis: simple and complicated. The distinction between the two is determined through an X-ray or CT scan. Simple silicosis involves small round nodules in the upper lung that are less than 1 cm in diameter, and it may be asymptomatic or it may present with difficulty breathing. Silicosis is deemed complicated when the masses are greater than 1 cm in diameter. Complicated silicosis symptoms include difficulty breathing and a cough that may or may not produce sputum.

Types of Silicosis

There are three types of silicosis depending on how long it has been since exposure to silica as well as the types of symptoms that present themselves.

  • Simple/Chronic Silicosis – this form appears between 10 and 30 years after exposure to silica. It is marked by breathlessness and can be either simple or complicated silicosis. This form is marked by swelling in the lungs and lymph nodes in the chest.
  • Accelerated Silicosis – this form occurs after exposure to a large amount of silica in a short time frame and typically appears 5-10 years after exposure. Symptoms are similar to patients with simple/chronic silicosis, but the disease progresses more quickly.
  • Acute silicosis – occurs within weeks to years after silica exposure. This form causes inflammation of the lungs and may cause them to fill with fluid.

Symptoms

Silicosis symptoms, similar to mesothelioma symptoms, can take years to present themselves and worsen over time as the lungs develop more scarring. One of the earliest symptoms of the disease is a persistent cough. Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough that produces sputum
  • Malaise
  • Weight loss
  • Inflammation and scarring of the lungs
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Low blood oxygen levels

Diagnosis and Prognosis

Silicosis is diagnosed by a chest x-ray or a computed tomography (CT) scan. Silicosis cannot be cured, but the disease’s progression can be slowed if the person is no longer exposed to silica. Patients with silicosis are at an increased risk of developing tuberculosis and should be tested regularly.  

Treatments

There are a few treatment options to improve the quality of life for silicosis patients. One is a whole lung lavage, or washing, which can be used to treat acute and chronic silicosis. This procedure involves doctors filling the lung with a saline solution and then draining it to clear blockages from the air spaces.

Certain drugs have also proved effective in reducing silicosis symptoms for patients. Corticosteroids have proven effective for some patients with acute or accelerated silicosis. Other patients find that medications designed to keep airways open and free of mucus, called bronchodilators, are helpful as well. In cases where the lung is severely damaged, a lung transplant may be the only option.

Who Is At Risk

Workers in the following industries are at the highest risk for silica exposure.

  • Construction
  • Cutting concrete
  • Coal mining
  • Tunnel working
  • Masonry
  • Sandblasting
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Ceramics work
  • Steel
  • Quarrying
  • Stone cutting

Prevention

Silicosis is directly caused by silica dust entering the lungs. The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid exposure, since it only takes a small amount of silica dust to harm the lungs. To avoid exposure, it’s important for people working around silica dust to engage in safety practices by wearing protective equipment, using a respirator and wearing disposable or washable clothing. Check product labels to see if silica is a component and never eat, drink or smoke in areas where silica dust is present.

Contact Us

Don’t assume that it’s too late to bring a claim for compensation for your loved one’s silicosis. Learn more about filing a silica exposure lawsuit today. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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