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Silicosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

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:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • 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.

More Information on Silicosis

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