Krisha McCoy, MS
Silicosis is a lung disease. It is caused by breathing dust that contains crystalline silica. In acute silicosis, the disease occurs after just weeks or months of exposure to very high levels of the silica. This is a serious condition. Contact your doctor immediately if you think you may have it.
Crystalline silica can be found in:
When silica dust gets into the air you breathe, it may become trapped in your lungs. The dust builds up damages your lungs. More dust will create more damage. This will make it hard for you to breathe.
Working in the following occupations increases your chance of acute silicosis:
Symptoms may appear within a few weeks to two years after exposure. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to this condition. These may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will also be asked about your work history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following:
There is no specific treatment for silicosis. If you have acute silicosis, you will be advised to avoid additional exposure. Your doctor may also treat other conditions associated with acute silicosis. These may include heart disease and TB. You will also be advised to stop
If your job puts you at risk of being exposed to silica dust, take the following steps to help prevent silicosis:
Nationals Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety
Canadian Lung Association
Silicosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
November 28, 2006.
Silicosis: learn the facts! National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website. Available at:
November 28, 3006.
What physicians need to know about occupational silicosis and silica exposure sources. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed November 28, 3006.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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