Silica powders are contained in minerals such as sand, stone and quartz. After prolonged inhalation of these powders, silica begins to accumulate in the lungs and respiratory tract. After accumulation, damage to the tissues may occur and the person's breathing may be negatively affected.
In general, silicosis is a disorder that is studied in 3 types. Acute (sudden onset) silicosis is a type of silicosis that occurs after high amounts of silica exposure between a few weeks and 2 years. In chronic (long-term) silicosis, there is exposure to low amounts of silica dust over a wide period of time. Complaints that may occur in this type of silicosis may take years to occur. Chronic silicosis is the most common type of silicosis. Caution should be exercised as complaints that are initially mild may gradually worsen over time. In the case of accelerated (rapid) silicosis, the disease picture may develop within 5-10 years after exposure to extremely dense silica dust. In this type of silicosis, the complaints get worse quite quickly.
What Are the Symptoms of Silicosis?
In individuals who develop silicosis, the symptoms that may occur in the early stages of this disease are generally as follows:
* Dry cough
* Chest pain
* Abnormal shortness of breath that occurs during an activity that requires effort
It should be noted that in some individuals, no symptoms may occur in the early stages of the disease. In general, after silica dust exposure, silicosis disease occurs after a period of time such as 10-20 years to fully fit the picture (chronic silicosis). In some cases, the disease picture may appear in a shorter period of time. In the case of so-called accelerated silicosis, the symptoms of the disease can occur within a period of 5-10 years with high levels of silica dust exposure. In some cases where a higher amount of silica dust exposure is involved, a picture of the disease called acute silicosis may be observed. In this case, the symptoms occur in a short period of time, such as weeks and months, and the complaints that occur are more severe than other forms of the disease.
In advanced cases, complaints such as coughing and shortness of breath can reach quite serious dimensions, as well as other symptoms such as extreme weakness and arm or leg edema can be added to the disease table. In some advanced cases, a condition called pulmonary hypertension may develop due to an increase in pressure in the vessels leading from the heart to the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension results in the inability of the right structures of the heart to pump blood adequately over time. This condition, called right heart failure, can result in life-threatening left heart failure due to the body's inability to get enough oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the body in sufficient quantities.
The reason why the formation of symptoms in cases of silicosis occurs after a period of decades is due to the fact that this dust does not directly cause damage to the lungs. In other cases of chemical inhalation, complaints occur after exposure, while the accumulation of silica dust in the lungs and the occurrence of symptoms are due to excessive stimulation of the immune system. The main purpose of the immune cells that fight this dust in the lung tissue is to remove the dust from the lungs. Failure to fully fulfill this goal, on the other hand, results in an excessive level of inflammation. Some immune system elements that remain active for a long time cause damage to the lungs. As a result, wound development is observed in the lung tissue. This process explains the fact that the symptoms caused by silicosis continue after exposure. Continued activation of the immune system despite cessation of exposure may cause further damage to lung tissue.
What Causes Silicosis?
Silicosis is basically a disorder that occurs after exposure to silica dust. In this disease, which can occur in acute, chronic or accelerated form, the subtype of the disease is associated with the degree and duration of exposure. Silica dust, which is drawn into the lungs during inhalation, settles in the airways. In the areas where the dust settles, damage occurs over time, and the resulting scar tissue results in a more difficult breathing of the person.
The occupational groups with the highest silica dust exposure can be summarized as follows in general:
* Mine workers
* Quarry workers
* Employees in the steel industry
* Construction workers
* Employees in glass production facilities
* Road maintenance workers
* Wall construction masters
* Roofing workers
* Tunnel construction workers
People in these occupational groups are at risk of developing silicosis disease. For this reason, it is very important for individuals with this type of profession to protect themselves with the right equipment.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE SILICOSIS?
Individuals with symptoms of silicosis are advised to contact health institutions as soon as possible. In order to detect silicosis disease in the initial evaluation of patients by physicians, it is primarily evaluated whether the person is working in risky occupational groups. In cases where silicosis is suspected, it is evaluated whether there is any damage to the lung tissue with various examinations at a later stage. Lung test is the first examination that can be applied in this context. Silica dust can be detected in the form of small, white spots on the lung films of silicosis cases.
Bronchoscopy examinations are also very useful in cases of suspected silicosis. Small and advancement of the tube and a camera on a flexible tube of the trachea by means of this examination of the respiratory system lung tissue damage and fluid accumulation, which allows structures to be observed, such as changes have occurred where the disease can be evaluated.
How is the Treatment of Silicosis?
Silicosis is not an ailment that can be eliminated with any specific medication or treatment method. The main purpose of treatment planning in individuals diagnosed with silicosis is to control the complaints that occur. Cough medicines and antibiotics can be effective in controlling the predisposition to lung infection conditions such as dry cough and pneumonia in these people. Expansion of the narrowed airways in these cases can be achieved with the use of various inhaler drugs. In some advanced cases, oxygen support can be given to people with a mask. It is very important for people diagnosed with silicosis to give up bad habits that can damage the lungs, such as tobacco use.
Silicosis is a rather severe lung disease that can occur in various occupational groups and can be prevented by improving working conditions. It is very important to be aware that the risk of developing this ailment can be minimized by providing the necessary equipment. At the same time, the level of silica dust in the work environment can be determined by conducting regular analysis in the work environment. If you observe the signs and symptoms of silicosis, which is a progressive disorder, on yourself or around you, it is recommended to contact the nearest health facility and get support from specialist physicians. We wish you healthy days.