What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust.Silicosis, particularly the acute form, is characterized by shortness of breath, cough, fever and bluish skin. It may often be misdiagnosed as pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), pneumonia or tuberculosis.
There are three classified types of Silicosis defined by OSHA.
1. Chronic/Classic Silicosis
- Results from long term exposure (20+ years of exposure) to low amounts of silica dust
- Causes swelling in lungs and chest lymph nodes
- Most common form of silicosis
- May cause fatigue, extreme shortness of breath, chest pain or respiratory failure
- Chest x-ray is needed to determine if there is lung damage
2. Accelerated Silicosis
- Occurs after exposure to larger amounts of Silica over a shorter period of time (spanning from 5 to 15 years of exposure)
- Swelling in lungs/symptoms occur faster
- Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, weakness and weight loss, which takes longer than in acute silicosis
3. Acute Silicosis
- Results from short term exposure to high concentrations of silica dust (a few months or as long as 2 years of exposure)
- Lungs become very inflamed and fill with fluid that causes severe disabling shortness of breath,
weakness, low blood oxygen level and weight loss, which may cause death
- Silicosis patients are at a high risk to develop tuberculosis