There is currently no cure for silicosis, which means that the disease itself will not go away. Unfortunately, it is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. That does not mean that someone with silicosis merely has to suffer the symptoms and progression without help or hope, however.
While there is no cure for silicosis, there are treatment options that may slow progression and help alleviate or reduce the symptoms. With proper diagnosis and medical care, the prognosis for silicosis can be quite good. In fact, many people with the disease live productive lives. As the disease progresses, however, symptoms do become more difficult to manage.
Slowing the Progression of Silicosis
While silicosis does not go away, slowing the progression of the disease is the key to managing symptoms and living the highest quality of life possible. The best ways to slow progression of the disease include:
- Avoid additional exposure to silica dust
- Stop smoking or vaping
- Be aware of the signs of complications
- Be aware of the signs of additional health conditions, such as tuberculosis
- Learn how to manage flare-ups
Slowing progression of the disease helps patients live longer without devastating or debilitating symptoms. This is important since certain types of silicosis can take years to progress from a mild irritation to a devastating lung disease. Early diagnosis and intervention is crucial.
Once a diagnosis of silicosis is made, your healthcare team will develop a plan of treatment that works best for you and your lifestyle. The most common treatment options to manage symptoms include:
- Corticosteroids, which reduce mucus
- Bronchodilators, which relax breathing passages
- Oxygen therapy
- Lung lavage (a washing of the lungs to clear particles)
- Lung transplant
Another key to managing symptoms is preventing additional lung diseases. People who have silicosis are more likely to develop diseases like tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. Any additional lung diseases will only weaken the lungs further, which can exacerbate symptoms and progression.
Who is At Risk?
Anyone who works in an environment that contains silica dust is at risk for developing silicosis. This includes individuals who work in any of the following industries:
Working in these environments does not mean that you will develop the disease, however. Silicosis is 100 percent preventable. There are guidelines and exposure limits set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Also, employers are required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers who may be exposed to toxic substances and inhalants. That includes silica dust.
If you work in any of these industries, make sure that you have access to PPE. Furthermore, make sure that you know how to properly use it, and do so. Even the best PPE cannot protect you if it is used improperly or not at all.
Have You Been Diagnosed with Silicosis?
If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, your primary focus is on getting medical care. Because silicosis does not go away, you can expect to have long-term medical care and treatment. Consequently, your family may find this financial burden overwhelming.
If your silicosis is the result of your occupation – past or present – you may find it helpful to discuss your situation with a silicosis lawyer. The conditions surrounding your exposure to silica dust may violate federal laws and guidelines, and may very well be a violation of your legal rights. If so, you may have a silicosis claim, and may be entitled to compensation.
At AkinMears, L.L.P., we help victims of occupational exposure to silica dust protect their legal rights. Contact us today to find out if you have a silicosis claim. Schedule a free consultation by calling 855-489-7853. You can also reach out to us online by completing our contact form.