Byssinosis : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is Byssinosis ?

Byssinosis is an occupational respiratory disease. It is due to exposure to hemp, flax and cotton particles and is sometimes called brown respiratory disease. That’s a form of occupational asthma.

In the US, byssinosis occurs almost entirely among people working with unprocessed cotton. Those who open cotton balls during the first stage of processing present the highest risk. There is also a type of byssinosis known as the lung of a grain worker which occurs among people who work with grain.

The directives and laws of the United States have made it possible to minimise the number of people who develop byssinosis. However, this is still common in developing countries where security measures may not be in place.

Symptoms of Byssinosis

Symptoms of byssinosis often occur at the beginning of the work week and usually improve at the end of the week. If you are exposed to dust particles for long periods of time, you may have symptoms all week long.

Byssinosis has the same symptoms as asthma. This includes chest tightness, wheezing and coughing.

If you are in a serious situation, you may develop flu-like symptoms, including :

  • pain in the muscles or joints.
  • tiredness
  • dry cough
  • fever
  • shivering

Symptoms of byssinosis often disappear when there is no longer exposure to dust. However, respiratory function may be permanently affected if continuous exposure occurs.

Causes and risk factors associated with byssinosis.

Byssinosis is more common among workers in the textile industry. It is caused by inhaling raw flax, hemp, cotton dust and other similar matter.

Smoking can increase the risk of development of byssinosis. An asthma or allergy history can also increase the risk.

Diagnosing Byssinosis

When diagnosing byssinosis, your doctor will ask you questions about recent activities and your work to know if you have been in contact with textile dust.

Your doctor may conduct a physical examination to inspect your lungs and may prescribe a chest x-ray and a computed tomography (CT scan) of your lungs. Lung function tests are also generally used to verify lung health.

Your physician can give you with a peak flow meter to test your lungs throughout the work week. This meter tests the speed at which you are able to expel air from your lungs. If you’re breathing changes at certain times during the day or week, this reader will assist your doctor in determining when and where you are exposed.

Byssinosis Treatment

The primary treatment of byssinosis consists in getting away from the noxious dust.

Your doctor may recommend bronchodilators for mild and moderate symptoms. This medication helps to open the narrowed airway.

In the most serious cases of byssinosis, corticosteroids by inhalation may be recommended. This decreases lung inflammation. But they can cause to fungal infections in the mouth and throat. This risk may be reduced by rinsing your mouth after inhaling the medicine.

If you have low oxygen in your blood, you may need additional oxygen therapy. In case of chronic byssinosis, a nebulizer or other breathing therapy may be suggested.

Respiratory exercises and exercise can also help to improve lung health and symptoms.

Maybe you’ll have to quit your job. While symptoms may go away towards the end of the work week, your lungs continue to accumulate damage. Exposure to dust from cotton, hemp and flax for more than several years may result in irreversible lung injury.

Outlook of Byssinosis

Byssinosis usually disappears once exposure has been completed. This is not considered a chronic or fatal illness. But you must identify the cause of your byssinosis. That can prevent him from returning once he is treated.

Preventing Byssinosis

You can avoid byssinosis. If you are working in a position that puts you in danger, wear a mask while you are working and especially close to dust.

American companies have a legal obligation to protect you against dangerous goods in the workplace. Your employer must provide you with protective equipment in accordance with the guidelines established by the Administration (OSHA). This means that OSHA needs them to supply you with a ventilator or mask if you work in the textile dust industry.

If you smoke, quitting smoking may also reduce your risk of byssinosis.

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