Tackling Silicosis One Breath at a Time

Research • Advocacy • Consultancy

Signs & Symptoms

Many suffers may be unaware of the fact they have the onsets of Silicosis as they may be asymptomatic meaning they show no symptoms. The majority however may display the classic signs and symptoms:

  • Dyspnoea (shortness of breath) exacerbated by exertion
  • Cough, often persistent and sometimes severe
  • Fatigue
  • Tachypnoea (rapid breathing) which is often laboured,
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Gradual dark shallow rifts in nails eventually leading to cracks as protein fibres within nail beds are destroyed.
  • Gradual darkening of skin (blue skin)
  • Cyanosis, pallor along upper parts of body (blue skin)
  • Cor pulmonale (right ventricle heart disease)
  • Respiratory insufficiency

It is also possible to get a raft of other diseases ranging from lung cancer, TB, chronic bronchitis, kidney disease to autoimmune diseases because of exposure to RCS dust, not just Silicosis. The exposure and damage can continue long after exposure and It can continue to progress even after exposure has stopped.

It can progress after a few weeks of heavy exposure or over a longer period in lower concentrations to respirable crystalline silica dust which is commonly found in many workplaces across the world.

Silicosis resulted in over 46,000 deaths globally in 2013 down from 55,000 deaths in 1990 however this is likely to be a gross underestimation based on the widespread misdiagnosis as pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lungs), pneumonia, or tuberculosis.