There is currently no cure for silicosis, but that does not mean that the prognosis for silicosis patients is disastrous. There are several treatment options to relieve the symptoms associated with silicosis, or to prevent worsening or additional symptoms. Managing the disease is the best option to improve quality of life and increase lifespan.
Treatment of Silicosis
Treatment options can help improve quality of life, and will vary from one patient to the next. The goal of treatment is to improve the prognosis of silicosis patients by slowing progression of the disease.
The most common treatments for silicosis symptoms include:
Patients with silicosis may require medication that is inhaled, or that is swallowed in pill form. This may include:
- Inhaled steroids that reduce inflammation and mucus.
- Bronchodilators that help relax breathing and open airways.
A portable oxygen tank may be required for individuals needing breathing assistance.
A whole lung lavage is a process of washing the lungs with a saline solution. This is a treatment option for patients with chronic or acute silicosis. By filling the lungs with a saline solution and then draining them, doctors can clear out material lodged in air spaces.
Patients with advanced silicosis may require a lung transplant. When the lungs are severely damaged or irreparable, a lung transplant may be the best option to restore breathing functionality.
Each of these treatment options is most successful in patients who also make lifestyle modifications in order to better their overall health. Such modifications include:
- Quitting Smoking
- Avoiding secondhand smoke
- Avoid allergens (dust, pollution, dander) as much as possible
- Limiting exposure to silica dust
- Wearing personal protective gear (PPE) when working around toxins
Complications Associated with Silicosis
People who have chronic silicosis are at a higher risk of developing certain complications or associated medical conditions. These include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Lung Cancer
To mitigate these risks, it is recommended that individuals with silicosis get an annual flu and pneumonia vaccine.
Prognosis for Silicosis
Silicosis is a frightening disease. The symptoms can appear anytime from weeks, years, or even decades after exposure. The prognosis for silicosis often depends on your overall health, complications or associated conditions, and the level of exposure. Of course, life can be complicated because of your symptoms and the financial burden that often accompanies a diagnosis.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with silicosis as a result of occupational exposure, contact AkinMears, L.L.P. to discuss your situation. Many people living with silicosis were unknowingly exposed to harmful silica dust, were not properly trained in avoiding the toxin, or were not provided with protective gear. In such cases, patients may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses.