silicosis

(redirected from stone-mason's disease)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.

Silicosis

 

Definition

Silicosis is a progressive disease that belongs to a group of lung disorders called pneumoconioses. Silicosis is marked by the formation of lumps (nodules) and fibrous scar tissue in the lungs. It is the oldest known occupational lung disease, and is caused by exposure to inhaled particles of silica, mostly from quartz in rocks, sand, and similar substances.

Description

It is estimated that there are TWO million workers in the United States employed in occupations at risk for the development of silicosis. These include miners, foundry workers, stonecutters, potters and ceramics workers, sandblasters, tunnel workers, and rock drillers. Silicosis is mostly found in adults over 40. It has four forms:
  • Chronic. Chronic silicosis may take 15 or more years of exposure to develop. There is only mild impairment of lung functioning. Chronic silicosis may progress to more advanced forms.
  • Complicated. Patients with complicated silicosis have noticeable shortness of breath, weight loss, and extensive formation of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. These patients are at risk for developing tuberculosis (TB).
  • Accelerated. This form of silicosis appears after 5-10 years of intense exposure. The symptoms are similar to those of complicated silicosis. Patients in this group often develop rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.
  • Acute. Acute silicosis develops within six months to two years of intense exposure to silica. The patient loses a great deal of weight and is constantly short of breath. These patients are at severe risk of TB.

Causes and symptoms

The precise mechanism that triggers the development of silicosis is still unclear. What is known is that particles of silica dust get trapped in the tiny sacs (alveoli) in the lungs where air exchange takes place. White blood cells called macrophages in the alveoli ingest the silica and die. The resulting inflammation attracts other macrophages to the region. The nodule forms when the immune system forms fibrous tissue to seal off the reactive area. The disease process may stop at this point, or speed up and destroy large areas of the lung. The fibrosis may continue even after the worker is no longer exposed to silica.
Early symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath after exercising and a harsh, dry cough. Patients may have more trouble breathing and cough up blood as the disease progresses. Congestive heart failure can give their nails a bluish tint. Patients with advanced silicosis may have trouble sleeping and experience chest pain, hoarseness, and loss of appetite. Silicosis patients are at high risk for TB, and should be checked for the disease during the doctor's examination.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of silicosis is based on:
  • A detailed occupational history.
  • Chest x rays will usually show small round opaque areas in chronic silicosis; the round areas are larger in complicated and accelerated silicosis.
  • bronchoscopy
  • lung function tests
It should be noted that the severity of the patient's symptoms does not always correlate with x-ray findings or lung function test results.

Treatment

Symptom management

There is no cure for silicosis. Therapy is intended to relieve symptoms, treat complications, and prevent respiratory infections. It includes careful monitoring for signs of TB. Respiratory symptoms may be treated with bronchodilators, increased fluid intake, steam inhalation, and physical therapy. Patients with severe breathing difficulties may be given oxygen therapy or placed on a mechanical ventilator. Acute silicosis may progress to complete respiratory failure. Heart-lung transplants are the only hope for some patients.
Patients with silicosis should call their doctor for any of the following symptoms:
  • tiredness or mental confusion
  • continued weight loss
  • coughing up blood
  • fever, chest pain, breathlessness, or new unexplained symptoms

Lifestyle changes

Patients with silicosis should be advised to quit smoking, prevent infections by avoiding crowds and persons with colds or similar infections, and receive vaccinations against influenza and pneumonia. They should be encouraged to increase their exercise capacity by keeping up regular activity, and to learn to pace themselves with their daily routine.

Key terms

Fibrosis — The development of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ. Fibrosis of the lungs is a symptom of silicosis.
Pneumoconiosis (plural, pneumoconioses) — Any chronic lung disease caused by inhaling particles of silica or similar substances that lead to loss of lung function.
Silica — A substance (silicon dioxide) occurring in quartz sand, flint, and agate. It is used in making glass, scouring and grinding powders, pottery, etc.

Prognosis

Silicosis is currently incurable. The prognosis for patients with chronic silicosis is generally good. Acute silicosis, however, may progress rapidly to respiratory failure and death.

Prevention

Silicosis is a preventable disease. Preventive occupational safety measures include:
  • controls to minimize workplace exposure to silica dust
  • substitution of substances—especially in sandblasting—that are less hazardous than silica
  • clear identification of dangerous areas in the workplace
  • Informing workers about the dangers of overexposure to silica dust, training them in safety techniques, and giving them appropriate protective clothing and equipment.
Coworkers of anyone diagnosed with silicosis should be examined for symptoms of the disease. The state health department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) must be notified whenever a diagnosis of silicosis is confirmed.

Resources

Organizations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1600 Clifton Rd., NE, Atlanta, GA 30333. (800) 311-3435, (404) 639-3311. http://www.cdc.gov.

silicosis

 [sil″ĭ-ko´sis]
a type of pneumoconiosis caused by the prolonged inhalation of silica dust. adj., adj silicot´ic. In the past it was called such colorful names as potter's asthma, stonecutter's cough, miner's mold, and grinder's rot, according to the occupation in which it was acquired. Today silicosis is most likely to be contracted in such industrial jobs as sandblasting in tunnels and hardrock mining, but it can occur in anyone who is habitually exposed to the dust contained in silica, one of the most common minerals. All types of miners, for example, may be subject to it, from gold miners to coal miners.



Silicosis usually takes about 10 years of fairly constant exposure to develop. It may give few warning symptoms. As time goes on, an affected person experiences progressive shortness of breath, along with steady coughing which in the early stages is dry and unproductive of mucus. Later there may be mucus tinged with blood, loss of appetite, pain in the chest, and general weakness. The silica produces a nodular fibrotic reaction that scars the lungs and makes them receptive to the further complications of bronchitis and emphysema; persons with silicosis are also more susceptible to tuberculosis.

Since this is a serious disease, persons who must work near silica should take precautions to breathe as little of it as possible, such as by the use of face masks, proper ventilation, and other safety devices. The cooperation of industry, labor, and government in developing protective measures has made the condition much less common today than it used to be. The occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) notes that silicosis is 100 per cent preventable if employers, workers, and health care providers work together to reduce exposure to the dust. Regular chest x-rays are recommended for all workers at risk as the quickest and easiest way to detect silicosis. If discovered in its early stages, it can usually be arrested by a change of occupation or avoidance of dust inhalation. Once fully developed, however, it rarely yields to treatment.

sil·i·co·sis

(sil-i-kō'sis),
A form of pneumoconiosis resulting from occupational exposure to and inhalation of silica dust over a period of years; characterized by a slowly progressive fibrosis of the lungs, which may result in impairment of lung function; silicosis predisposes to pulmonary tuberculosis.
[L. silex, flint, + -osis, condition]

silicosis

/sil·i·co·sis/ (sil″ĭ-ko´sis) pneumoconiosis due to inhalation of the dust of stone, sand, or flint containing silica, with generalized nodular fibrotic changes in the lungs.silicot´ic

silicosis

(sĭl′ĭ-kō′sĭs)
n.
A disease of the lungs caused by continued inhalation of the dust of siliceous minerals and characterized by progressive fibrosis and a chronic shortness of breath.

sil′i·cot′ic (-kŏt′ĭk) adj.

silicosis

[sil′ikō′sis]
a lung disorder caused by continued long-term inhalation of the dust of an inorganic compound, silicon dioxide, which is found in sands, quartzes, flints, and many other stones. Silicosis is characterized by the development of nodular fibrosis in the lungs. In advanced cases, severe dyspnea may develop. The incidence of silicosis is highest among industrial workers exposed to silica powder in manufacturing processes; in those who work with ceramics, sand, or stone; and in those who mine silica. Also called grinder's disease, quartz silicosis. See also chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, inorganic dust.
enlarge picture
Silicosis

silicosis

Classical silicosis, silicoproteinosis Occupational medicine A form of pneumoconiosis caused by inhalation of silicates/silica dust from industries that process quartz and flint–potteries, foundries, sand pits, construction sites, etc Clinical Emphysema, ↓ respiratory function, pulmonary fibrosis, ↑ susceptibility to TB Radiology Bilateral symmetrical interstitial fibrosis, hilar lymphadenopathy with 'eggshell' calcification Risk factors Mining, stone cutting, quarrying, blasting, road and building construction, foundry workers, abrasives manufacture, and other exposure to silicates; symptomatic disease requires 10+ yrs of exposure. See Acute silicosis, Pneumonoconiosis. Cf Asbestosis.

sil·i·co·sis

(sil'i-kō'sis)
A form of pneumoconiosis resulting from occupational exposure to and inhalation of silica dust over a period of years; characterized by a slowly progressive fibrosis of the lungs, which may result in impairment of lung function; silicosis predisposes to pulmonary tuberculosis.
Synonym(s): silicatosis.
[L. silex, flint, + -osis, condition]

silicosis

A persistent and damaging lung disease caused by long-term inhalation of silica-containing dusts. See also PNEUMOCONIOSIS.

sil·i·co·sis

(sil'i-kō'sis)
Form of pneumoconiosis resulting from occupational exposure to and inhalation of silica dust over a period of years.
[L. silex, flint, + -osis, condition]

silicosis (sil´ikō´sis),

n a lung disorder caused by continued, long-term inhalation of the dust of an inorganic compound silicon dioxide, which is found in sands, quartzes, flints, and many other stones.

silicosis

deposits of inert dust in the lungs of animals; very rare because of lack of exposure of animals to such a polluted environment.