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General Practice 2023

Pneumoconiosis: what é, how to prevent and treat

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Pneumoconiosis: what é, how to prevent and treat
Pneumoconiosis: what é, how to prevent and treat

Pneumoconiosis is an occupational disease caused by inhaling chemical substances such as silica, aluminum, asbestos, graphite or asbestos, for example, leading to breathing problems and difficulties.

Pneumoconiosis usually happens in people working in places where there is direct and constant contact with a lot of dust, such as coal mines, metallurgical factories or construction works and, therefore, it is considered an occupational disease. Thus, when working, the person breathes in these substances and, over time, pulmonary fibrosis can occur, making it difficult to expand the lungs and resulting in respiratory complications, such as bronchitis or chronic emphysema.

Types of pneumoconiosis

Pneumoconiosis is not an isolated disease, but several diseases that may present more or less the same symptoms but differ in the cause, that is, by the powder or substance inhaled. Thus, the main types of pneumoconiosis are:

  • Silicosis, in which excessive silica dust is inhaled;
  • Anthracosis, also called black lung, in which coal dust is inhaled;
  • Beryllium, where there is constant inhalation of beryllium dust or gases;
  • Byssinosis, which is characterized by inhalation of dust from cotton, flax or hemp fibers;
  • Siderosis, in which there is excessive inhalation of dust containing iron particles. When silica particles are inhaled in addition to iron, this pneumoconiosis is called Siderosilicosis.

Normally, pneumoconiosis does not cause symptoms, however if the person has constant contact with these potentially toxic substances and has a dry cough, difficulty breathing or chest tightness, it is recommended to seek medical help so that tests are carried out and can diagnose possible pneumoconiosis.

Companies are required by law to carry out examinations at the time of admission, before dismissal and during the person's contract period in order to check for any work-related illness, such as pneumoconiosis. Therefore, it is recommended that people who work in these conditions have at least 1 consultation with the pulmonologist per year to check their he alth status.

How to avoid

The best way to prevent pneumoconiosis is to wear a well-fitting face mask while working, to avoid inhaling chemical substances that cause the disease, in addition to washing hands, arms and face before to go home.

However, the workplace must also provide favorable conditions, such as having a ventilation system that vacuums dust and places to wash hands, arms and face before leaving work.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for pneumoconiosis should be guided by a pulmonologist, but usually includes the use of corticosteroid medications, such as Betamethasone or Ambroxol, to reduce symptoms and make breathing easier. In addition, the person should avoid being in very polluted or dusty places.

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