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The long-term effects of lung disease

On Behalf of | May 10, 2019 | workers' compensation

Georgia workers who experience long-term exposure to irritants in the workplace may get one of any number of occupational lung diseases. Tiny particles in the air at factories, mining facilities, construction sites and farms are the most hazardous as the body absorbs them instead of expelling them through coughing. The smaller the particles, the more lung damage they can cause.

Cedars-Sinai reports that there are several different tests needed for a correct diagnosis, as lung diseases often mimic infections or breathing conditions, such as asthma. Each test collects a specific type of data so that medical professionals receive a full report of a patient’s overall health.

Chest x-rays take pictures of the bones, tissue and organs. Pulmonary tests measure the lungs ability to move air. Bronchoscopy provides a view of the inside of the lungs, allowing identification of blockages and for the removal of foreign objects as well as fluids and tissue for samples, known as a biopsy.

Pneumoconiosis is a result of inhaling certain types of materials, including asbestos, metal and coal dust. The American Lung Association states that cough and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms early in the disease. As the condition progresses, patients may become breathless when climbing stairs, walking or at rest. Due to the scarring caused by the inhaled particles, oxygen cannot reach the blood, resulting in hypoxemia.

There is no standard treatment, medication or cure for pneumoconiosis. Doctors may prescribe inhaled drugs and exercise for improved airflow through the lungs. In advanced cases, patients may need oxygen delivered through tubes. Individuals living with this disease have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, tuberculosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Frequent testing, doctor’s appointments and increasing severity can affect all aspects of a patient’s life and prevent them from working and living actively.

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