Yes, silicosis is a potentially fatal respiratory disease. The problem is caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica particles.
Silica is a mineral that exists in a huge number of natural and artificial mineral compounds. It's found in many common construction materials. Cutting or drilling such materials creates silica dust, and the silica particles in that dust may cause silicosis when inhaled. The responsible particles are extremely small. They're invisible to the naked eye.
When silica particles settle in the lungs, they can cause inflammation and scarring. Enough scarring over time reduces the flexibility of the lungs and creates health problems. The main symptoms of silicosis, including coughing, chest pain, and breathing difficulties, tend to get worse over time. Silicosis also increases the risk of developing related health problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis, and lung cancer. Silicosis also makes you more susceptible to lung infections and heart failure. While there are ways to treat silicosis and its symptoms, the condition may be fatal even with treatment.
Silicosis cannot, as yet, be cured. The good news is that the right steps can prevent the disease and reduce its effects. Most of the treatment techniques currently in use concentrate on managing symptoms and minimizing the disease's negative impact on patients' quality of life.
Common silicosis treatments include:
* Supplemental oxygen
* Inhaled corticosteroids
* Cough-suppressant medications
* Risk-averse lifestyle changes (e.g. giving up smoking or avoiding hazardous occupations)
According to the Lung Institute, one of the latest and most promising ways to treat silicosis is with cellular therapy. One of the greatest advantages this technique has to offer is that it may actually be able to slow down the condition's progression. Cellular therapy is a three-step treatment. First, a blood sample is collected. Next, the cells best able to fight the condition are separated and concentrated. Finally, those cells are reintroduced to the patient's bloodstream. This reduces inflammation in the lungs and promotes healing. Cellular therapy for silicosis is a minimally-invasive procedure. It normally takes only two days, and patients can go through it on an outpatient basis.
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