Unlike lung diseases that have multiple contributing factors or causes, silicosis results solely from inhaling crystalline silica dust. When this dust settles in the lungs, it causes inflammation and scarring, which gradually hardens and stiffens the lungs and makes it progressively more difficult to breathe.
The most common form of crystalline silica is quartz, which is found in sand, gravel, clay, granite and other types of rock. Silicosis is thus an occupational lung disease, as the majority of people who come into contact with these materials do so through their line of work. Individuals who may be particularly at risk for developing silicosis include the following:
- Abrasives manufacturers
- Asphalt/cement/concrete manufacturers
- Ceramics manufacturers
- Construction workers (including building and road construction)
- Demolition workers
- Foundry workers
- Gemstone engineers
- Quarry workers
- Rock crushers/drillers
- Silica millers
- Steel industry workers
- Tunnel workers
Because the sand in Afghanistan and Iraq contains an irritant that causes silicosis when inhaled, U.S. soldiers who serve in those countries may also be at risk for developing this condition.
Inhaling any amount of silica can lead to the development of silicosis, but frequent or prolonged exposure causes an increased risk. There are three types of silicosis, which are differentiated by the amount of time it takes for the condition to develop. Chronic silicosis is the most common form, typically occurring at least 10 years after inhaling a relatively low amount of silica. Accelerated silicosis develops more quickly — generally within 5 to 10 years — following a higher level of exposure. Acute silicosis can develop within weeks or months after inhaling a very high amount of silica.
While there are many treatment methods that can help relieve the symptoms associated with silicosis, the stem cell therapy offered at the Lung Institute is aimed at addressing the underlying causes of silicosis as well as symptoms. Please contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to discuss how this alternative treatment may help you breathe easier.