Pneumoconiosis: Description, Categorization, Causes, Tests, Treatment, Prognosis, Possible Complications and Prevention

By | 02/03/2018
pneumoconiosis symptoms

It is one of the most dangerous diseases of this generation, and it’s an industrial disease, we call it by this name because it is a result of industry work.

When someone exposes himself to the mineral dust or other particles, it gradually creates a lot of problems in the lungs.

It is a lung disease that results from the inhalation of coal dust, graphite or artificial carbon for an extended period.

The particles get into the lungs while breathing causing permanent damage.

At the last phase of the illness, it turns into an asthmatic coma. As a result, the lungs cannot inhale oxygen or exhale carbon dioxide appropriately.

Pneumoconioses correspond to a group of diseases that experts currently included within the so-called environmental pathology, and within this, in the vast crowd of injuries caused by air pollution.

The term pneumoconiosis means the presence of dust inside the lung. Such conditions are therefore chronic lung diseases caused by prolonged inhalation of inorganic powders.

This concept often applies to any aerosol (either particulate or in the form of fumes or vapors), or particles of coal (either mineral, graphite or artificial), and The fibrotic reaction that occurs in the lung tissue as a consequence of deposited particles.

That is, pneumoconiosis is directly related to air pollution.

For such condition to occur, three circumstances must get fulfilled:

  • Exposure to inorganic dust.
  • Particle size suitable for reaching the alveolus directly and not being trapped in the upper airway.
  • Prolonged exposure time for a sufficient amount of particles to accumulate.

The most critical pneumoconiosis are those that have the potential to progress to irreversible, often fibrous lesions, whether of nodular or diffuse nature.

The most frequent and clinically crucial as their relevance to the lung parenchyma are:

  • Pneumoconiosis of coal workers
  • Silicosis
  • Asbestosis
  • Berylliosis

Also, many other pneumoconioses do not evolve with the severity of the previous ones, but that also have to be recognized like pneumoconiosis:

  • Siderosis
  • Estañosis
  • Baritosis
  • Byssinosis

Categorization of Pneumoconiosis

There are several types of categories of Pneumoconiosis. Let’s have a look at those. The reason for this acknowledgment is that more information about this disease will be helpful to ensure the prevention and cure.

Asbestosis: This particular disease is caused by mining and cultivating in an unhealthy place. The mineral in the air gets mixed and gets into the lungs of the victim.

Silicosis: Well, the name shows the reason for the disease. Using silicon can affect the lungs with this kind of Pneumoconiosis.

Coal: Workers of the coal Mining Corporations are not aware of this condition. Sometimes they do not take precaution while working on the field. Soon enough, their lungs stop inhaling clear oxygen and cannot produce the complete wastage.

Talc Pneumoconiosis: The talcum powder is harmful. If it enters into your lungs, there is a risk of permanent damage. The expansion rate of them decreases quickly.

Which particles produce pneumoconiosis?

The disturbances produced in the lung by pneumoconiosis depend on the type of inhaled particles and the intensity of the exposure.

Because of their nature and environment, several industrial jobs increase the risk of developing this condition. Some relevant activities related to the particles that may cause the disease are:

  • Mining
  • Stone carving (with granite, slate, sandstone)
  • Foundry (with molds)
  • Grinding or polishing of ceramics, porcelain, earthenware, carborundum, and refractory products
  • Working with sugarcane bagasse

Causes

Alveolar macrophages phagocytose the dust, release cytokines that stimulate inflammation and accumulate it in the pulmonary interstitium around the bronchi and alveoli (carbon macules).

Some can see coal nodules when collagen builds up, and focal emphysema occurs when the walls of the bronchiole become weak and dilate.

There may be fibrosis, but it may also be limited to the areas adjacent to the carbon macules.

The distortion of the pulmonary architecture, the obstruction to the airflow and the functional deterioration are usually mild, but in some patients, they can be very destructive.

It describes two forms of pneumoconiosis of coal workers:

  • Simple, with individual carbon macules
  • Complicated, with coalescence of maculae and progressive massive fibrosis

Patients with uncomplicated pneumoconiosis develop extensive progressive fibrosis in a part of 1 to 2% per year.

Recently, some had recognized the rapid progression of coal workers’ (as well as small-scale miners’) pneumoconiosis to progressive mass fibrosis, especially in the eastern United States.

In progressive massive fibrosis, the nodules unite to form black masses of parenchyma with a gummy appearance, generally in the upper and posterior fields.

The masses can invade and destroy the vessels and airways or suffer cavitation.

Progressive massive fibrosis can appear and progress even after exposure to carbon dust has ceased.

Despite the similarities between progressive mass fibrosis induced by carbon and conglomerate silicosis, the onset of progressive massive fibrosis in coal workers depends on the silica content of the carbon.

Symptoms of Pneumoconiosis

The disease is an unknown Trojan virus. It can cause damage all of a sudden. So, primarily the signs should be recognized by the patient or the relatives. Let’s take a look at the symptoms.

A bloody cough which gets mixed with mucus is the first and a horrible sign of Pneumoconiosis.

Breathing inconvenience is one of the most critical symptoms of Pneumoconiosis. Some can perceive it more clearly while exercising.

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • A cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A cough with black sputum

Tests and exams

The doctor will perform a physical examination and listen to the lungs with a stethoscope. Medical experts will take an x-ray or CT scan of the chest. Pulmonary function tests may also be needed.

Treatment

Treatment may include any of the following depending on how severe the symptoms are:

  • Medicines to keep the airways open and reduce mucus
  • Muscle rehabilitation to help you learn ways to breathe better
  • Oxygen therapy
  • You should also avoid exposing yourself to coal dust.

There is no specific and effective treatment for pneumoconiosis. It is recommended to avoid dust exposure.

Once the diseases deal damage to the body, the results of such harm are irreversible, and the only possible treatment is the support, which aims to relieve the symptoms.

Inhalers may be given to try to improve respiratory function. People should avoid Tobacco and other aggressive agents for the respiratory tract.

Some pneumoconioses produced by organic dust may respond to corticoid treatment.

The Prevention of Pneumoconiosis

Pneumoconiosis is a lifetime disease. So, the prevention or cure has no particular duration. The patient must continue the medication until death. Again, some of the precautions are helpful to avoid this disease. An anti-dust mask is beneficial while working in the mining field.

From the above description, the seriousness of Pneumoconiosis is now apparent. Everyone should be conscious of this disease as much as possible.

Prognosis

Usually, the clinical outcome for the pure form of this condition is excellent and rarely causes disability or death. The complicated way can cause shortness of breath that gets worse over time.

Possible complications

Complications may include:

  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Cor pulmonale (right heart failure)
  • Respiratory insufficiency

Prevention

Wear a protective mask when working in coal, graphite, or artificial coal. Companies must enforce maximum permissible dust levels. Avoid smoking.