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Take a Breather: How to Manage Chronic Silicosis

By May 12, 2017Silicosis

Not many people are fully aware of chronic silicosis or its effects, even those who are diagnosed with it. Silicosis is an incurable lung disease that is a result of inhaling small dust particles of crystalline silica overtime. Crystalline silica is the small, jagged rock that comprises the makeup of a rock that is well-known: quartz. Essentially, silicosis occurs when quartz rock is ground into a dust, is dispersed into the air, and inhaled over a long period of time, causing lung scarring and lung inflammation. It can also cause the body to react by fluid filling into the lungs, giving the appearance of pneumonia or TB. Anyone working in the industry of mining and producing crystalline silica is likely to be exposed to this type of dust, as quartz is actually used in several everyday products, such as certain cleansers, caulk, paint, and even cosmetics. The sad part is that there is no cure, but the disease is manageable.

Our home healthcare professionals with United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care help industry workers who have developed chronic silicosis due to their occupational exposure. We know what it takes to help manage chronic silicosis, which is why we provide workers with free home healthcare services. We recommend the following steps about how to help manage chronic silicosis symptoms. People who manage their condition generally have peace of mind, and the whole family is able to relax and take a breather.

Step 1: Stop Exposure to Dust and Smoke

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Because exposure to crystalline silica causes silicosis, the first and foremost step to relieving its symptoms is to remove the chance of being exposed to more of it. Lungs with silicosis are particularly susceptible to more damage from other particulates as well, which means that any dust particulates should be avoided as well. Sawdust from workshops, pollution, and tobacco smoke should be avoided, as these can cause further scarring, inflammation, or more mucus buildup. Dust and smoke makes breathing labored, painful, and overall more difficult for silicosis patients, so don’t waste your breath. Find ways to eliminate smoke and dust from your daily life.

Step 2: Chest Physical Therapy


The body’s natural response to scarring and inflammation is to send the affected areas help, sometimes too much help. People with chronic silicosis tend to have difficulty breathing because their lungs are filled with mucus and fluid intended to help heal the lungs. Chest physical therapy has been known to help clear mucus and fluid from the lungs, making breathing easier and more manageable. There are several ways to do this, from physical contact to machines, but your doctor can decide the best course of action for you in these types of situations.

Step 3: Antibiotics

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Too much mucus and fluid in the lungs can also be a great breeding ground for bacteria. The fluid provides a warm and moist incubator ripe for lung infections which can actually be eradicated through the use of antibiotics. Most often, doctors who diagnose their patients with silicosis will also test for bacterial infections, so they can offer suggestions for suitable antibiotics.

Step 4: Exercise


There are a few obvious reasons why exercise is recommended for breathing problems: it helps you breathe. Cardio exercises are excellent for helping you breathe deeply to oxygenate the muscles of your body, which means that the lungs are 1) getting more air and 2) are getting stronger, both of which can be helpful in combating the inflammation, scar tissue, and expulsion of mucus. Starting an exercise regime may be difficult at first, but your doctors and physical therapists will have recommendations fit to your capabilities. Exercise, in combination with the other three steps, is one of the best ways to keep your lungs clear and healthy.

Free Home Health Services

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The US federal government has provisions in place to help occupational workers’ illnesses caused while working for a government entity. Under two acts passed by the congressional legislature, EEOICPA and RECA, workers who now have chronic silicosis due to sustained crystalline silica exposure may have the opportunity to receive free home health care services. Much of our efforts will be focused around the how-tos we mentioned in this articles, but we also offer support and services for family members as well. If you have been diagnosed with chronic silicosis and are interested in free home health care, give us a call today at (800) 314-2383. We guarantee our services are a breath of fresh air.