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This information was reviewed and approved by Cecile S. Rose, MD, MPH (11/1/2019).

There is no cure for silicosis and no medications that can reverse the lung damage that has been done. This means that reducing and controlling exposure to silica dust is the only effective defense against silica-related lung disease.

If you have been exposed to silica dust in your job, it’s important to be checked regularly by your health care provider. The earlier a diagnosis of silicosis can be made, the more helpful it can be. If possible, you should avoid further exposure. If that’s not possible, and your job exposes you to silica dust, your employer is required to provide you with protective equipment. You should always use it.

Treatment will be specific to your symptoms, so it will vary for each individual. Silicosis treatment is supportive and includes:

  • Timely treatment of respiratory infections. Silicosis makes you more susceptible to infections, so it’s important that you watch for them and see your doctor right away if one develops.

  • Surveillance for mycobacterial lung infections, autoimmune diseases, lung cancer and kidney disease.

  • Immunizations for influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia. It’s important to get your flu vaccination each year, and to get the pneumonia vaccine when indicated.

  • Supplemental oxygen at rest and/or with exertion if needed. As the disease becomes more advanced, you may require oxygen during exercise, or eventually, at all times.

  • Smoking cessation. If you are a smoker, one of the most important things you can do to reduce silicosis symptoms is to quit smoking. Smoking damages your lungs, and aggravates the effects of silicosis. Avoid secondhand smoke and areas with a lot of dust.

  • A program of regular exercise to maintain overall health and respiratory muscle strength

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation

  • Inhalers, if lung function testing indicates that treatment would be helpful

  • Lung transplant may be considered in some cases.


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