Occupational Lung Diseases III: Asbestosis And Byssinosis

Funom MakamaStarred Page By Funom Makama, 17th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3z7he0ib/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Diseases & Infections

Inhalation of asbestos dust leads to asbestosis. Asbestos is a widely used material in day to day life and industry. It is a complex silicate containing silicon, oxygen, hydrogen and metals like calcium, magnesium and iron. The raw material is obtained by mining. Different varieties of asbestos such as chrysolite, crocidolite, amosite and anthrophyllite are obtained from different regions.


Asbestos particles are needle-shaped and on account of this shape, these preferentially settle in the lower lobes. They may reach the alveoli or may be arrested at the samm air passages. They give rise to alveolar epithelial hyperplasia and interstitial fibrosis. Eventually, fibrosis develops around the asbestos particles and this obliterated the alveoli. Asbestos bodies are seen on histology of the lesions. These consists of asbestos fibers coated by proteninaceous material and ferritin granules derived from macrophages. Asbestose bodies may be demonstrable in the sputum. Mere presence of asbestos bodies in sputum does not indicate that the person is suffering from asbestosis.

Asbestosis predispose to bronchogenic carcinoma (especially in smokers) and mesotheliomas of the pleura and peritoneum. This condition also predisposes pulmonary tuberculosis. Malignancies of distant organs such as kidneys and breasts are more common in subjects with asbestosis.

Clinical Manifestations

The symptoms start with increasing dyspnea on exertion, cough, malaise and weight loss. As the condition proceeds, cyanosis and digital clubbing supervene. The functional defect is one of restriction of lung parenchyma and impairment of diffusion. The clinical picture differs from case to case, depending on the extent of the lesion and presence of other coexistent conditions such as emphysema, bronchiectasis, tuberculosis, malignancy or pleural disease.

Radiologically, fine mottling and prominent streaky fibrosis are seen in the middle and lower zones. Pleural thickening, pleural effusion and calcification may be evident in some cases.


Pulmonary disease caused by exposure to cotton dusts, flax or hemp is termed byssinosis. In the early stages, the symptoms are tightness of the chest and wheeze usually felt by the patient when he resumes work after the weekly holiday. Later on cough and dyspnea become more prominent and persistent. Some subjects develop chronic obstructive airway disease. Persons employed in the carding section suffer more than those employed in other areas. Cotton dust probably contained non-antigenic substances which stimulate histamine release from mast cells in the lungs. Pure cotton such as surgical cotton does not provoke the symptoms. The occurrence of dyspnea and cough at the beginning of the week and its subsidence during the working week is attributed to depletion of the mast cells of their histamine. Radiological findings are nonspecific. Treatment consists of withdrawal or susceptible persons from the environment and symptomatic measures.

Numerous other disorders have also be recognized as resulting from occupations exposure to different materials. It is beyond the scope of this article.

Management: Once established, penumoconioses are treated symptomatically since specific therapy is lacking.

Prevention: Workers who are employed in industry should be recruited only after proper medical examination. Persons with family history of allergic respiratory disorders and those who have features of obstructive airway disease are more likely to deveop permanent ill effects. Periodic examination of the persons to facilitate early detection and removal from the harmful environment is required y legislation. Industrial establishments where the risk of pneumoconioses is present have to follow specifications intended to reduce the concentration of dust in the eonvironment and also for giving protection to the workers. Many of the pneumoconioses attributable to occupational exposure are eligible for compensation from the employers.

To view Pictorial representations Of the chest X-ray in different respiratory diseases, click on the following links:
1. Diagnosing, Acquainting And Identifying With Atelectasis Via An X-Ray (Radiographic Investigation)
2. Cystic Fibrosis: Basic Diagnostic Features Of Pulmonological Diseases Via Radiology Investigations
3. Radiographic Representations Of Hydrothorax And Its Effects On The Lungs Seen In The X-Ray
4. Detecting And Diagnosing Using The Chest X-Ray (Radiographic Investigation) Chronic Bronchitis

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
19th Mar 2014 (#)

Nice post!

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author avatar Funom Makama
19th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks a lot Fern

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author avatar Lambasted
19th Mar 2014 (#)

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author avatar Funom Makama
19th Mar 2014 (#)

Tnx Lambasted

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author avatar Funom Makama
22nd Mar 2014 (#)

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