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Black Lung Disease

What is Black Lung Disease?

Black lung disease is a chronic occupational lung disease contracted by the prolonged breathing of coal mine dust.

Black lung disease is also called anthracosis, black lung, black spittle, coal worker's pneumoconiosis, miner's asthma, pneumoconiosis, and silicosis.

Risk of Contracting Black Lung Disease

The risk of having black lung disease is directly related to the amount of coal mine dust inhaled over the years. Black lung disease usually affects workers over age 50.

Symptoms of Black Lung Disease

Most people with black lung disease do not have symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common ones are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Obstruction/Involvement of airways
  • Severe cough

Complications of Black Lung Disease

In severe cases, an enlargement and strain of the right side of the heart may occur. This is caused by chronic lung disease. The strain on the heart may eventually cause right-sided heart failure.

Some patients also develop emphysema.

How is Black Lung Disease Diagnosed?

Black lung disease can be diagnosed through a series of tests. Chest x-rays and a pulmonary function tests are the most common diagnostic tools.

Can Black Lung Disease Be Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for black lung disease. Treatments are aimed at the symptoms and complications.

Can Black Lung Disease be Prevented?

The only way to prevent black lung disease is to avoid long-term exposure to coal dust.

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