Pneumoconiosis (patient information)
Pneumoconiosis On the Web
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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. ; Associate Editor-In-Chief: Mohammed A. Sbeih, M.D. 
Coal worker's pneumoconiosis is a lung disease that results from breathing in dust from coal, graphite, or man-made carbon over a long period of time.
What are the symptoms of Pneumoconiosis?
- Shortness of breath.
What causes Pneumoconiosis?
Coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs in two forms: simple and complicated (also called progressive massive fibrosis, or PMF).
Your risk of getting coal worker's pneumoconiosis depends on how long you have been around coal dust. Most people with this disease are older than 50. Smoking does not increase your risk of developing this disease, but it may have an additional harmful effect on the lungs.
If coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs with rheumatoid arthritis, it is called Caplan syndrome.
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of coal worker's pneumoconiosis.
The doctor will do a physical exam and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. A chest x-ray or chest CT scan will be performed. You may also need lung function tests.
There is no specific treatment for this disorder. You should avoid further exposure to the dust.
Where to find medical care for Pneumoconiosis?
Directions to Hospitals Treating Pneumoconiosis
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
The outcome for the simple form is usually good. It rarely causes disability or death. The complicated form may cause shortness of breath that gets progressively worse.
Complications may include:
- Chronic bronchitis.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Cor pulmonale (failure of the right side of the heart).
- Respiratory failure.
Wear a protective mask when working around coal, graphite, or man-made carbon. Companies should enforce the maximum permitted dust levels.