If you’ve worked or are still working in a job that exposes you to inhaled silica, and you’re experiencing persistent cough and breathing difficulties, you probably have silicosis. Early detection and intervention is key to preventing the progression of silicosis. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
How is Silicosis Diagnosed?
While managing silicosis will surely be expensive and quite a challenge, if your past or present work is under the Department of Energy and your silicosis is a result of your work with them, Nuclear Care Partners says you can claim compensation under the EEOICPA or Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
Expect to visit your doctor regularly and undergo multiple testing procedures. Past or present work in at-risk occupations will be your doctor’s best clue and starting point. First up, a physical exam where your doctor will listen to how your lungs function. Then, a chest X-ray to determine the specific silicosis type you may have. Depending on the severity of your condition, your X-ray result may come back normal or exhibit lung scarring. You will likewise have to undergo other tests, which usually include the following:
- Breathing tests
- CT scans of your chest
- Bronchoscopy to assess your lung condition
- Lung biopsy to test for cancer
- Other tests including sputum or mucus evaluation to check for related illnesses like tuberculosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with silicosis, you will be required to regularly visit your doctor for monitoring.
How is Silicosis Treated?
Unfortunately, silicosis isn’t curable, and prevention is vital to avoid it. It also doesn’t have a particular treatment since the goal is to actually manage whatever symptoms you may already have, and possibly slow down the progression of the disease. Some individuals may require prompt oxygen therapy and breathing support, while others may require medications like steroids to reduce sputum production. Some patients may require inhaled bronchodilators for relaxing their airways. In rare instances, some individuals may require a lung transplant.
When the disease progresses, management will be akin to that of other chronic lung illnesses. It will require a team or multidisciplinary approach. To prevent the premature advancement of silicosis, avoid silica exposure, as well as exposure to other common lung irritants, including air pollution both outdoors and indoors, smoke, and other allergens.
Remember, early detection is important, so file your claim soon. Use your EEOICPA benefits for treating your silicosis so that you can live a healthier and more comfortable life.