Silicosis is a breathing system that affects the lungs. It is caused by breathing in tiny particles of silica, which is a mineral that constitutes rock, sand, and some mineral ores (for example quartz). The most susceptible demographic are the individuals who work with silica; for instance, glass manufacturers, miners, and foundry workers are exposed to silica dust. Long-term exposure to silica dust scars the lungs, which in turn affects how the lungs function.
Long-Term exposure to RCS can result in the formation of fibrosis (which is scarring or hardening) of one’s lung tissues. Consequently, the lungs are unable to function normally, causing suffers experiencing severe breath shortness. The suffer end up having difficulties walking up stairs or short distances. It is also important to note that with increased exposure, the effects exacerbate even further. And since the condition is irreversible, suffers typically end up bedridden and house-bound. Moreover, the vast majority of suffers will die prematurely as a result of heart failure.
Silicosis was particularly prevalent in Australia’s construction and demolitions industry between the 1940s and 60s. However, the increased awareness of the need to reduce exposure to silica particles has seen industry workers taking precautions steps to mitigate dust exposure. Some of the steps taken include wetting the dust, wearing masks, and other safety practices. This reduced the overall number of Silicosis cases.
That being said, there is a worrying trend of increased reported cases of Silicosis as evidenced by the in New South Wales parliamentary committee hearing. However, the increased cases of Silicosis are not emanating from the traditional sources of the ailment. The increased cases of Silicosis are being reported by workers installing engineered stone products. These products are especially popular for tile and benchtop installations.
The Effects Of Silicosis On Your Body
Silicosis mostly affects the lungs as it damages the lining that covers the air suck. After the particles attach to the lining, it causes the scarring, which can result in progressive massive fibrosis. The massive scarring results in the stiffening of the lungs, making it very difficult to breathe.
The main 3 types of silicosis are:
The first type is acute silicosis. It causes weight loss, coughing, and fatigue within just a few weeks or months of exposure to silica. However, the symptoms might take as long as years to develop.
The second type is the Chronic Silicosis. The symptoms of this type of silicosis appear after 10 to 30 years. It affects the upper lungs and can also cause severe scarring.
The third type of silicosis is Accelerated silicosis. It occurs within 10 years of high-level exposure.
However, silicosis can be classified based on whether it is simple or complicated silicosis. The simple silicosis causes the formation of numerous white spots (known as nodules) that are visible on a chest CT scan or x-ray. On the other hand, complicated silicosis causes the formation of large scarring, which is also known as massive fibrosis.
Generally speaking, the more scaring one has, the more widespread silicosis is. Additionally, the more trouble one will have with regards to breathing owing to the lung’s lost capacity to expanding and contracting. It also increases the chances of contracting tuberculosis.
When you get silicosis, the lung capacity will decrease, eventually, to the point, you will need an oxygen supply to keep breathing.
Is Silicosis A Serious Ailment?
Silicosis can result in major and extensive lung damage. Learn about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment. Read more.