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Coping with Silicosis

While a diagnosis of chronic silicosis is serious, a diagnosis of accelerated or acute silicosis often provokes a profound emotional response in the patient, family members and friends. Denial, depression, a feeling of hopelessness, and fear are normal and usual reactions. No single response is either expected or unexpected.

A lack of understanding of what’s in store, the unknown, and what’s next should be met by thoughtful, straightforward, and frequent discussions between physician, nurse, patient and family. An inability to work, tend to business affairs, care for one’s family and interact with friends in the usual manner, all contribute to emotional distress. Thorough explanations, including the prospects for remission and the plans for treatment may bring emotional relief as the patient focuses on the treatment ahead and the prospect of recovery and remission.

Family members or loved ones may have questions about treatment. It is best to speak directly with physicians regarding specific medical questions. Family members or loved ones should discuss any problems or reactions they may have. Nurses and other health professionals understand the complexity of emotions and special ongoing needs of those living with silicosis. They also will spend much time with patients, become their confidants and can be very helpful in their emotional support.

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