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Silicosis – symptoms, treatment

Silicosis is a lung disease with chronic evolution which occurs after inhalation and accumulation of free crystalline silica in the lung.

Silicosis occurs more frequently in workers from certain economic sectors where silicon dust rate is intense. Among those is mining, metallurgy, machine building, glass, crystal, porcelain, tiles, extraction and processing industry sands, building materials, agriculture, maritime industry, the production of detergents and soaps.

Symptoms of silicosis

The clinical presentation is polymorphous, defining both a series of pulmonary symptoms and signs and general symptoms.

Of pulmonary symptoms, the most significant are dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing) during exercise that can become a rest dyspnoea, discreet cough, dry that during the course of the disease can become productive with intense coughing even with blood and chest pain (with feeling of discomfort, tightness, burning).

General symptoms that characterize this condition are fatigue, adinamia, fever, weight loss, impaired general condition, sometimes arthralgia (joint pain affecting the sacro-iliac joint).

Analysis in silicosis

In terms of investigations, the basis of diagnosis is the lung X-ray. By performing chest X-ray, not only it can be diagnosed, but is also a mean of tracking progress and a method of detecting complications. Other investigations that can be performed are the CT, scintigram of the lung, sputum examination, laboratory tests (blood count, ESR, enzymatic determinations), bronchoscopy, broncho-alveolar lavage.

Given the fact that silicosis may be complicated by pulmonary tuberculosis the tuberculin skin test is performed.

This disease has slowly and progressive evolution, progressive even after removal from silicogen environment.


Pulmonary silicosis is a disease that causes lung sclerosis. During the development of the disease, a number of complications may appear, such as:

– Shortness of breath;

– Chronic pulmonary heart;

– Silico-tuberculosis;

– Chronic obstructive bronchopneumonia (chronic bronchitis, emphysema);

– Pneumothorax (accumulation of air in pleural cavity) spontaneous;

– Segmental atelectasis;

– Infectious complications.

Treatment of silicosis

In the treatment of pulmonary silicosis there can be performed a pathogenic treatment (inhibition of lung response to silica dust presence) and a symptomatic treatment (to relieve symptoms caused by disease and prevention and treatment of complications).

The pathogenic treatment may be aluminum citrate complex with poly-2 – Vinyl – pyridine-N-oxide (PVNO) Tetrandrine. Also in the treatment can be included NSAIDs (phenylbutazone) or corticosteroid (prednisone).

For treating symptoms of silicosis there can be used a number of medications such as bronchodilators (Miofilin, theophylline) – for dyspnoea, cough sedative (Codeine), expectorants (Bromhexin), pain killers (Panadol, Algocalmin) – for chest pain.

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