What Is Silicosis and Can It Be Cured?

Free Case Evaluation

Get Started

Chest pain. Trouble breathing. Coughing. These symptoms can range from irritating to terrifying. So, when your doctor tells you that the symptoms are a result of a preventable lung disease called silicosis, it’s natural to feel angry. You may even wish that you could travel back in time ten or twenty years and tell yourself to take necessary precautions to prevent it. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. In this guide, we’ll tell you what you need to know about silicosis, including what it is, what causes it, whether it can be cured, and why you may want legal advice from a silicosis lawyer.

The Cliff Notes: Key Takeaways From This Post

We listed what you need to know about silicosis; however, here are the key bullet points if you are in a rush:

  • Silicosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to silica dust, with symptoms ranging from cough to chest pain.
  • There are two forms: acute and chronic, with the latter appearing slowly over time.
  • Common industries to be exposed to silica dust include quarrying/mining, construction/masonry, and glass/ceramics manufacturing
  • Silicosis has no cure but can be treated with steroids or other medications, oxygen support breathing, or lung transplants.
  • To prevent further damage sufferers should avoid any other irritants such as dust, pollution, allergens, and smoke.
  • Suffering from silicosis carries a financial burden in the form of diagnostics, treatments and medications.
  • Individuals who have worked in a high-risk industry may be entitled to compensation from their employers.

What is Silicosis?

Silicosis is a lung disease that can take weeks or years to develop. It’s a result of exposure to silica dust. Over time, your lungs become scarred, which can cause you to develop anything from a cough to severe chest pain. Symptoms can include:

  • A persistent cough that gets worse over time
  • Coughing up phlegm
  • Difficulty breathing, including feeling like you, can’t catch your breath
  • Sudden fever
  • Sharp chest pain
  • Swelling in your extremities
  • Lips tinged a bluish color

There are two different forms of silicosis: acute silicosis and chronic silicosis. Symptoms of acute silicosis appear suddenly, while symptoms of chronic silicosis start slowly and get worse as time goes on.

How Do You Get Silicosis?

Silicosis is caused by being exposed to silica dust. Silica dust is borne from working with minerals like sand, soil, or granite. As you chip into these minerals—for example, drilling or excavating an area—the dust permeates the air. Silica dust exposure is common in certain industries, including:

  • Quarrying or mining
  • Construction or masonry
  • Glass or ceramic manufacturing

This lung disease is largely preventable. Industries, where employees may be exposed to silica dust, are required by law to offer protective gear to prevent the development of silicosis. Unfortunately, these national guidelines are often ignored by industry executives more interested in maintaining their bottom line than in the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Can Silicosis Be Cured?

One of the worst things about silicosis is learning that there is no cure for it. Prevention is the best way to avoid the disease, a fact which does little to console those already suffering from the disease’s grasp.

Man discusses treatment options for Silicosis with his doctor in Pinellas

There are a number of treatment options. However, even with treatment, silicosis is often life-altering for sufferers. Treatment may include:

  • Steroids or other medications to help break up the phlegm in your lungs
  • Oxygen or other support breathing
  • Lung transplants for sufferers with significant lung scarring

It’s also important for people with the disease to stay away from anything else that may irritate their lungs, including construction materials, pollution, allergens, and smoke.

Contact Us to See If You Qualify for Compensation

The worst thing about having silicosis is knowing that its acquisition could probably have been prevented if your employers had been more diligent about keeping you safe. If you or a loved one are suffering from this disease and you’ve worked in a high-risk industry, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer.

Compensation is important, not only because it forces your employer to acknowledge the danger they put you in, but because treatment can be expensive. Just diagnosing requires a barrage of tests, including a bronchoscopy, a biopsy, and a chest X-ray. Once you’ve been diagnosed, these tests are often repeated year after year to monitor your disease’s progress, and that doesn’t include the cost of medications and other necessary treatments. You shouldn’t have to pay these expenses when someone else is at fault for your disease. If you believe that to be the case, you contact Herman Wells for a free case evaluation today.