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:
· weight loss / loss of appetite
· severe breathing difficulty
· trouble sleeping
· chest pain
· nails with a bluish tint
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.
Silicosis looks like this through and X rays and under a microscope.
Silicosis X rays:
Silicosis, Fig. 1
Chest radiograph showing multiple small nodules predominantly in the upper and middle zones.
Silicosis, Fig. 2
Chest radiograph of a patient with progressive massive fibrosis. Note the masses surrounded by emphysematous lung.
Silicosis under a microscope:
The below photo shows a slice of lung from a 61-year-old ceramics worker. It shows diffuse pleural fibrosis (upper right), which involves interlobar fissures; and multiple, hard, black silicotic nodules (arrow marks one), which are confluent in the anterior upper lobe and upper portion of the lower lobe.
Find out more about…
Silicosis Related Diseases