There is no cure for silicosis. Therapy is intended to relieve symptoms, treat complications, and prevent respiratory infections. It includes careful monitoring for signs of TB.
Respiratory symptoms may be treated with:
- Bronchodilators (medicines that help open the bronchial tubes (airways) of the lungs, allowing more air to flow through them).
- Increased fluid intake
- Steam inhalation and
- Physical therapy
Patients with severe breathing difficulties may be given:
- oxygen therapy or
- placed on a mechanical ventilator
Acute silicosis may progress to complete respiratory failure (the lungs failing to take oxygen to the body). Heart-lung transplants are the only hope for some of these patients.
Patients with silicosis should call their doctor for any of the following symptoms:
- Tiredness or mental confusion
- Continued weight loss
- Coughing up blood
- Fever, chest pain, breathlessness or new unexplained symptoms
Patients with silicosis should be advised to quit smoking, prevent infections by avoiding crowds and persons with colds or similar infections, and receive vaccinations against influenza and pneumonia. Silicosis patients should be encouraged to increase their exercise capacity by keeping up regular activity, and to learn to pace themselves with their daily routine.