Prognosis for Black Lung Disease
The prognosis for black lung disease, which is caused by repeatedly inhaling coal mine dust over a prolonged amount of time, depends on the duration and extent of one’s exposure to coal mine dust. This condition, also referred to as anthracosis or miner’s lung, is a form of pneumoconiosis, which is a general term used to categorize lung diseases resulting from the inhalation of mineral dust.
Every time that you inhale coal mine dust, your immune system directs macrophages (a type of white blood cell) to remove the dust from your lungs. It is the macrophages’ responsibility to remove foreign particles, like coal mine dust, from the body. Your macrophages, however, are not equipped to handle the amount of coal mine dust introduced into the body that many who work with coal continuously inhale. When your macrophages become overwhelmed by the amount of inhaled coal mine dust, they release a chemical that causes scar tissue to begin forming in the lungs. The macrophages and the coal mine dust settle into the lungs and combine to form coal macules. Over time, this causes the lungs to actually turn black and stiffen, preventing them from properly expanding when you inhale. It also damages your air sacs, thereby impeding oxygen from being exchanged with carbon dioxide.
This process causes your blood-oxygen level to decrease, thereby damaging other organs throughout the body. It also decreases your lung capacity. Symptoms of black lung disease include the following:
- Chronic coughing
- Increased mucus production
- Shortness of breath
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in your lungs)
The severity of your condition will depend on how long you were exposed to coal mine dust, as well as on the amount of coal mine dust you inhaled during that time. There are two forms of black lung disease — simple and complicated — the differentiation between which is based on the severity of your condition. Although it is very rare for this condition to progress past the simple stage, when it does so, complicated black lung disease often has a poor prognosis.
At the Lung Institute, we offer stem cell therapy aimed at slowing the progression of black lung disease. If you would like to learn more about how our innovative treatment techniques may be able to improve the prognosis of your black lung disease, please call us today at (800) 729-3065.