Black lung is a term used to describe a category of diseases caused by inhalation of coal dust. More specifically, black lung describes the condition known as coal worker's pneumoconiosis. Basically, anyone who inhales coal dust has a high chance of developing this condition.
Coal worker's pneumoconiosis (CWP) causes the lungs to change from their normal pink colour to black. Hence, the reason for the term "black" lung. There are two forms of the disease -- a simple form and a more complex form. The simple form is just known as coal worker's pneumoconiosis, while the complex form or complicated form is termed as the progressive massive fibrosis. Symptoms
Years after black lung begins, symptoms are noticeable. One symptom being the cough is typical of black lung . However, it often signals a warning of other lung-related conditions such as emphysema. Other symptoms of lung disease include shortness of breath and Caplan syndrome -- swelling and inflammation of the lungs. Even an increased mucus in the lungs may occur in individuals with CWP. Causes
The black lung disease occurs when the coal dust enters the lungs. Coal mine workers, carbon black factory workers and carbon electrode manufacturers are the prime candidates for developing this disease. The black residue that builds up in the lungs causes the lungs to blacken and may also give rise to other complications. Diagnosis
A CWP diagnosis consists of an occupational history assessment. Chest x-rays are conducted to confirm black lungs. In some cases. lung function tests are used. These particular tests are assisted by professionals depending upon the severity of the disease.
Diagnosis, treatment and prevention
As previously mentioned, severe cases of coal worker's pneumoconiosis turn into progressive massive fibrosis. At this stage, large masses of fibrous tissue form on the lungs. The risk of developing emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increases due to CWP. Treatment
Lung treatment includes treating symptoms and complication -- not treatment of the actual condition. This is because there's not a cure for the disease as of now. Inhalers, oxygen and other breathing treatments are used to assist an individual with breathing. Prevention
Prevention of the disease includes one of two options, The option of quitting your job dealing with coal dust or stay away from coal-related jobs is the best alternative. The other option is to wear a mask every time you find yourself in a dusty environment in order to reduce the inhalation of the dust.