Silicosis is currently an incurable disease.
If you’ve just been diagnosed with silicosis you may be feeling shocked, angry, afraid and hopeless. However, there are many things that can be done to help you and treatments are available to manage the condition so that you can get the best quality of life possible.
The first step in helping yourself is to stop any further damage. You may want to consider switching jobs and if you think your employer was at fault, seek advice from an attorney. You may be entitled to injury compensation. See if your employer offers a disability benefit. If not, you can apply for one from the government.
Stop any behaviors that could contribute to the disease, like smoking and cannabis use. If you do either of these, you greatly increase your chances of dying of silicosis.
Physiotherapy – chest physiotherapy is available to help expel mucus from the lungs and help you breathe more easily.
Antibiotics may be given to prevent secondary infections which are common if you suffer from silicosis.
You may be given steroids to reduce the inflammation in the lungs and allow more room for oxygen.
Bronchodilators are medications which open up your airways. Examples of medications are ventolin and salbutamol.
Cough medicines may also be given so that you are not bothered by endless coughing.
If yours is a severe case, you will be offered oxygen therapy (breathing oxygen through a mask or artificial ventilation). If your prognosis is considered terminal but you are currently strong enough, you may be considered a good candidate for a lung transplant. This will involve having to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life, and substantial side-effects, but they may be less than your illness.
Herbal remedies – the Chinese herbal remedy, Stephania Tetrandra, known as Tetrandrine, has been proven to improve the condition of the lungs as an effective treatment for silicosis. The West Virginia University School of Pharmacy found that:
‘The action of tetrandrine is attributed to its ability to inhibit the release of reactive oxygen metabolites and inflammatory cytokines by alveolar macrophages, and that targeted delivery of tetrandrine to alveolar macrophages using a multiple emulsion system minimizes drug toxicity, maintains the drug's pharmacological activity, and enhances tetrandrine distribution in the lungs while reducing systemic drug distribution. This study provides in vivo evidence of emulsion-mediated enhancement of drug action in the lungs against silica-induced lung injury using a rat model.’
(Chao, D.H. ; Ma, J.Y.C. ; Malanga, C.J. ; Banks, D.E. ; Hubbs, A.F. ; Rojanasakul, Y. ; Castranova, V. ; Ma, J.K.H (July 1996). Multiple emulsion-mediated enhancement of the therapeutic effect of tetrandine against silicosis).
Ask your doctor or Chinese Medicine practitioner about using tetrandrine to help you.
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.
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