Silicosis is the number one occupational lung disease across the globe. Silicosis is also the oldest known occupational disease, and it leads to serious complications that may result in death.
Silica, simply put, is fine, microscopic sand that is used to make things like glass bottles, light bulbs, jars, windows and more. Miners are exposed to silica on an almost daily basis working deep inside mines, as they blast through stone which is then vaporized to become microscopic sand particles that float in the air around them.
Over time, silica collects inside the lungs. Given the fact that this is a foreign matter, the body’s defenses go to work in trying to contain the substance by producing fibrous tissue around it, so that it can be digested and eliminated. Continued exposure to silica, however, such as in the case of a mine worker who spends his entire life in a silica-rich environment, will cause aggressive fibrous tissue formation, effectively compromising the proper functioning of the lungs.
Workers commonly affected by silicosis include those that work in the following industries:
- Masons or stone workers
- Those in railroad construction
- Foundry workers
- Quarry workers
- Demolition workers
- Rock drillers
Silicosis is a lung disease which progresses slowly. It is thus generally only caught when it is too late to stop its progression, but there are treatments available.
Here are the various stages of silicosis:
- Chronic silicosis: This usually takes about a decade to develop, and it is caused by low-level but constant exposure to silica.
- Accelerated silicosis: This usually is seen after 5 to 10 years of elevated exposure to silica.
- Acute silicosis: This usually happens during the highest exposure of silica and usually takes a few weeks to a few years of exposure to very high levels of silica.
Silicosis is an insidious disease which sneaks up on you. That being said, here are some of the common symptoms:
- Persistent coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and fatigue
- Overproduction of phlegm and mucous
- Heart problems affecting the right heart chamber
Symptoms of silicosis are often only seen years after a person stops working with (or around) silica. In addition, once you have it, you are more likely to develop infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. If left untreated, one may develop extreme chest pain and respiratory failure which may be fatal.
If you work in the industries we’ve mentioned, it’s a good idea to let your doctor know so your workup includes a checkup for silicosis. Oxygen therapy to improve lung function and steroids are used to manage this condition, and patients are advised to stop continuing exposure to prevent more damage to the lungs and heart.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
In many types of cases, you can (and probably should) file a lawsuit in order to recover compensation for the damage you’ve suffered. These cases can be very complex, and your best chance at recovering a fair settlement would be to contact a product liability lawyer for a free consultation.
To speak with someone about your situation right now, call Rasansky Law Firm at 1-877-659-2580 (toll-free).