Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Silicosis Overview

What is silicosis?
A person with silicosis has damage to the lungs, caused by years of breathing silica (quartz) dust. Silica dust is a byproduct of quarrying and processing stone. Continued inhalation of the tiny dust particles causes damage to the lungs, which worsens over time. About 1.3 to 3 million workers are exposed to silica dust in the US.

What are the symptoms of silicosis?
Initial symptoms of silicosis include cough, difficulty breathing during exertion, wheezing, fever, and weight loss. Symptoms of severe silicosis may also include increased size of the chest, difficulty breathing at rest, leg swelling (bilateral), and chest pain.

How does the doctor treat silicosis?
Treatment for silicosis includes corticosteroid medications and bronchodilator medications. Treatment for severe silicosis may also include home oxygen therapy.

Continue to Silicosis Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Silicosis References
  1. Arakawa H, Honma K, Saito Y, Shida H, Morikubo H, Suganuma N, Fujioka M. Pleural disease in silicosis: pleural thickening, effusion, and invagination. Radiology. 2005 Aug;236(2):685-93. [16040925]
  2. Castranova V, Vallyathan V. Silicosis and coal workers' pneumoconiosis. Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Aug;108 Suppl 4:675-84. [10931786]
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Silicosis mortality, prevention, and control--United States, 1968-2002. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2005 Apr 29;54(16):401-5. [15858459]
  4. Linch KD. Respirable concrete dust--silicosis hazard in the construction industry. Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2002 Mar;17(3):209-21. [11871757]
  5. Rimal B, Greenberg AK, Rom WN. Basic pathogenetic mechanisms in silicosis: current understanding. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2005 Mar;11(2):169-73. [15699791]
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