Silicosis is a form of lung disease affected by inhalation of Silicon dioxide dust which is marked by irritation and scarring in the form of wound in the upper lobes of the lungs. Silica is a common, naturally-occurring crystal. It exits in most rock beds and forms dust through mining, quarrying, tunneling and working with many metal ores. Silica is also a part of sand, hence glass cutters and sand-blasters are also affected by Silicosis.

Three types of silicosis occur:

Simple chronic silicosis:

Results from long-period exposure to little amounts of silica dust, which causes enlargement in the lungs and chest lymph nodes. This disease may affect people to have breathing problems. This is the very common form of silicosis.

Accelerated silicosis:

It happened after disclosure to large amounts of silica over a less period of time. Compared to simple silicosis, symptoms and enlargement of lungs occur faster in Accelerated silicosis. 

Acute silicosis:

Effected when short-period disclosure to very huge amounts of silica. The lungs become very irritated and can fill with fluid which effect on breathing and low blood oxygen levels.

People who work in jobs where they are exposed to Silicon dioxide dust are at high risk.
These jobs include: 

  • Abrasives manufacturing
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Quarrying
  • Road and building construction
  • Sand blasting
  • Stone cutting


  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

In advanced cases, the following may also occur:

  • Cyanosis (blue skin)
  • Cor pulmonale (right ventricle heart disease)
  • Respiratory insufficiency


Silicosis is an irreversible condition and there is no specific treatment for Silicosis. Treatment options mainly focused on improving the symptoms and preventing complications. These include:

  • Avoid further exposure to silica, including tobacco smoking
  • Cough suppressants
  • Antibiotics for bacterial lung infection
  • TB prophylaxis for those with positive tuberculin skin test or IGRA blood test
  • Prolonged anti-tuberculosis (multidrug regimen) for those with active TB
  • Chest physiotherapy to help the bronchial drainage of mucus
  • Oxygen administration to treat hypoxemia, if present
  • Bronchodilators to facilitate breathing
  • Lung transplantation to replace the damaged lung tissue is the most effective treatment, but is associated with severe risks of its own.

Experimental treatments include:

  • Inhalation of powdered aluminium, d-penicillamine and polyvinyl pyridine-N-oxide
  • Corticosteroid therapy
  • Patient has to take herbal extract tetrandine medication to get relief from silicosis

Tests for Silicosis Disease:

  • Chest X-ray    
  • Chest CT scan
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test (for tuberculosis)
  • Serologic tests for connective tissue diseases