Pneumoconiosis means “dust in the lungs.” This disease is actually a series of occupational diseases, and all of them are caused by inhalation of various types of dust particles. If you permanently inhale such particles for years, on one or both lungs irritated places will be created. If your longs are less elastic and porous as a result from scar tissues, which leads to shortness of breath, you are suffering from some type of pneumoconiosis. The most common form of the disease has an appropriate name – Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (anthracosilicosis). Somewhat less widespread is silicosis that affects workers in the quarries, stonecutters, grinders and metal miner. Pneumoconiosis affects people who work with aluminum, asbestos, beryllium, iron, talc and some synthetic fibers. It should be noted that until these diseases come only long-term and continuous exposure to the respective dust. It usually takes at least ten years of daily exposure for a man to suffer from pneumoconiosis (although people who work under adverse conditions get asbestosis after five years). Pneumoconiosis of coal workers sometimes develops only after twenty five years.
Shortness of breath during the stress is the main symptom. In people who suffer from silicotuberculosis, this symptom gradually becomes more difficult and may be associated with symptoms of tuberculosis. In all cases, in which the disease is caused by the dust, a frequent cough with sputum usually occurs. A spotum of coal workers is often black.
With an X-rays, it is possible to detect even a small degree of pneumoconiosis by almost anyone who has been exposed to the dust that irritates the lungs. However, the latest data show that in the UK only around 20,000 people suffer from a severe case of this disease which requires medical attention. Pneumoconiosis affects men more than women, at a ratio of 40:1.
Silicosis can severely damage the lungs and cause pneumonia. Less common, but still possible, dangerous complication of asbestosis in the respiratory system – lung cancer. However, pneumoconiosis and their complications are not so severe disease due to regulations in the industry and preventive medicine.
What to do?
Stop smoking. If you are in exposed to dust at your workplace, try to determine what kind of dust it is and whether there is a risk of pneumoconiosis. If there is, go to the X-ray examination of the lungs once a year and contact your doctor whenever you feel stronger shortness of breath. The doctor will probably ask for X-ray of the lungs which will show whether you’re already seriously affected by the disease. If you are, we advise you to change the workplace. Even on the second, new workplace, occasionally go for X rays for the rest of your life, so that any later complications (although those are unlikely) can be detected in the initial stage.