Symptoms of Silicosis
- Chronic dry cough.
- Shortness of breath with exercise, usually in patients who have progressive massive fibrosis.
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease, especially in acute silicosis:
- Weight loss / loss of appetite
- Severe breathing difficulty
- Trouble sleeping
- Chest pain
- Nails with a bluish tint
Diagnosis of Silicosis
Diagnosis of silicosis is based on:
- A detailed occupational history to determine if there has been occupational exposure.
- Chest x rays will usually show small round opaque areas in chronic silicosis; the round areas are larger in complicated and accelerated silicosis. (see X ray)
- Bronchoscopy, a procedure that involves placing a flexible tube with a camera at the end down the nose or throat to visualize, and often take tissue specimens of the lungs. This is rarely needed. (See photo of lung slice)
- Pulmonary Function Test, a lung function tests done by blowing into a tube which then measures how much air is in the lungs and how forcefully this air can be exhaled. Individuals with silicosis have a diminished lung capacity.
It should be noted that the severity of the patient’s symptoms does not always correlate with x-ray findings or lung function test results.