Black lung disease causes damage to the lungs due to inflammation of the air sacs and scarring. The condition is caused by inhalation of coal dust. Even today, there is no treatment but the symptoms can be treated and complications can be prevented.
Those who work in coal mines face a high risk for developing black lung disease due to the high amount of coal dust being inhaled. The symptoms do not arise for years but chronic exposure allows the coal dust to settle deep within the lungs and affect its overall functioning. Some of the complications of this disease include:
- Lung cancer
- Cor pulmonale
- Respiratory failure
- Pulmonary tuberculosis
Who are at risk?
It is important to note that black lung disease is considered as an occupational hazard and those who work in these industries are at higher risk to develop the condition:
- Coal mine workers
- Graphite mine workers
- Workers loading coal for storage
- Individuals who work in industries that manufacture carbon electrodes and carbon black that are utilized in furnaces and in the tire industry
What are the indications of black lung disease?
If an individual is suspected with black lung disease, the usual indications include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
How is it diagnosed?
The doctor will confirm a diagnosis of the condition with the help of the following tests:
- Chest X-ray
- Pulmonary function tests
- Occupational history
Even at the present, there is no precise treatment of black lung disease. In most cases, the doctor will try to manage the symptoms as well as the complications of the condition.