The lung is a vital organ that is quite resilient and can be regenerated quickly. However, with the permanent influence of damaging factors from the environment, the lungs can be so stressed that their function is significantly reduced. Pneumoconiosis is one of these lung diseases.


What is pneumoconiosis?

Pneumoconiosis, which comes from the Greek for lungs and dust, is a disease that was also known as pneumonoconiosis in the past. Pneumoconiosis is a process triggered by external factors that leads to the destruction of lung tissue. See polyhobbies for Meanings of Periosteum Inflammation.

The processes that take place in the lungs that lead to pneumoconiosis result from the efforts of the lung tissue to regenerate. For this reason, pneumoconiosis is a natural and reactive behavior of the respiratory organ.

In the case of pneumoconiosis, a distinction is made between around 7 forms, depending on the disease triggers. Pneumoconiosis is recognized as an occupational disease.


The causes for the development of pneumoconiosis or dust lung are clearly clear. In pneumoconiosis, they are based on solid particles that are deposited in the lung tissue as inhaled dust. These substances include silica dust, powders such as talc, beryllium and iron dust, aluminum and coal dust, and the finest fibers of carcinogenic asbestos.

Basically, the triggers of pneumoconiosis are summarized as inorganic substances. These particles are inhaled in greater or lesser concentrations and thus reach the tissue structures of the lungs. Since no transport can take place, the doses of these disease triggers of pneumoconiosis increase and sometimes lead to considerable symptoms that can ultimately even be fatal.

If organic substances such as fungal spores or parts of bird droppings are inhaled, pneumoconiosis leads to allergic alveolitis (inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs).

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The signs of pneumoconiosis can appear suddenly within a few weeks to months or develop gradually over years. The less time that elapses between exposure to dust and the first symptoms, the more pronounced the symptoms are usually. Acute pneumoconiosis shows rapid deterioration.

Patients are increasingly suffering from shortness of breath. Due to the lack of oxygen supply, the mucous membranes of the mouth, lips and fingers turn bluish. In addition, those affected lose weight unintentionally and feel powerless and exhausted. Cough and chest pain are other symptoms of pneumoconiosis.

As the disease progresses, the functional tissue of the lungs hardens increasingly. The lungs can no longer expand and breathing is significantly more difficult. Just as with acute pneumoconiosis, there is also a cough in the chronic form. This is initially dry, but is later accompanied by a dark sputum.

Since the lungs can no longer expand and unfold, the entire body is no longer sufficiently supplied with oxygen. This is why the skin ( cyanosis) in the area of ​​the face and fingers also turns blue in chronic pneumoconiosis.

Diagnosis & History

The course of pneumoconiosis is characterized by either a malignant or a benign pathway and depends on the substances ingested and the extent and “depth” of dust deposits.

Malignant pneumoconiosis is characterized by an eventual loss of function of the lungs and occurs predominantly in silicosis, asbestosis or talcosis. Benign courses of pneumoconiosis only change the lung tissue and reduce the ability of the respiratory organ to function.

Most forms of pneumoconiosis are, under certain circumstances, an occupational disease and must be reported. Pneumoconiosis can be detected by anamnesis, which relates in particular to the affected person’s employment in combination with X-ray and computer tomography images of the lungs. In addition, the described symptoms of pneumoconiosis also serve as important foundations for diagnosis.


The complications that can arise from pneumoconiosis depend on the course of the disease and the substances inhaled. In any case, contact with the substances that triggered the pneumoconiosis must be stopped immediately or at least severely restricted. Otherwise there is almost always a risk of loss of lung function due to progressive fibrosis.

Patients suffering from pneumoconiosis are at increased risk of tuberculosis. Otherwise, the disease usually only occurs in Europe when people live together in a confined space in connection with poor hygienic conditions and malnutrition. In black lung patients, the pathogens can easily settle and multiply in the lung tissue that has already been attacked.

The patient then suffers from fever, a severe cough in connection with shortness of breath and mostly bloody sputum. In severe cases, tuberculosis is not limited to the lungs but spreads to other organs. Since tuberculosis is contagious, family members or work colleagues can become infected.

In the case of a malignant course of pneumoconiosis, the patient can also develop lung cancer. Even if the cancer does not take a fatal course, the therapy is enormously stressful for the person affected and their family environment.

When should you go to the doctor?

If symptoms such as pain in the lungs, shortness of breath or coughing occur, a doctor’s visit is necessary. Pneumoconiosis is a serious condition, but its effects can be reliably reduced with appropriate treatment. Therefore, the first signs of black lung disease should be examined. People who work in mining or in another industry with high exposure to harmful substances should have the symptoms mentioned immediately checked out. People who already have lung disease should see their family doctor if symptoms get worse or other unusual signs appear and don’t go away within a week.

The pneumoconiosis is treated by the ENT doctor or a lung specialist. Other contact points are internists or the rheumatologist if Caplan syndrome is suspected. Since pneumoconiosis is an occupational disease, the necessary documents must be submitted to the health insurance company at an early stage. For this purpose, the doctor responsible should be spoken to quickly, who can help with the organizational tasks. In the case of chronic illnesses, psychological adjunctive therapy is sometimes useful.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of pneumoconiosis depends on its type and the symptoms that occur. Avoiding the causal triggers is the first central factor in the therapy of pneumoconiosis.

The so-called black lung disease can only be treated poorly. Especially in the later chronic course of pneumoconiosis, ventilation with oxygen is mainly an option in order to improve the quality of life of those affected. This therapeutic measure is considered long-term care.

Since pneumoconiosis is a disease that directly affects what is known as the interstitial tissue in the lungs, therapy is not possible, meaning that the further course of the pneumoconiosis cannot be influenced.

Overall, it is typical for the course of pneumoconiosis that pulmonary fibrosis develops and symptoms similar to tuberculosis can occur. In this context, emergency medical treatment for pneumoconiosis cannot be ruled out.


In order to prevent the occupational disease pneumoconiosis, the occupational safety measures must be observed if contact with the triggering factors cannot be avoided at a risky workplace.

In addition, regular health checks are part of the norm in these high-risk professions and should be carried out regularly by every employee. These prophylactic examinations are ideal for detecting the first signs of pneumoconiosis or pneumoconiosis in good time. If this is the case, those affected can no longer work in the correspondingly affected work areas.


In most cases, those affected with pneumoconiosis have only very few direct follow-up measures available. The patient with this disease is primarily dependent on a quick and, above all, on a very early diagnosis. This can prevent further complications, which, if left untreated, can lead to the death of the affected person in the worst case.

Therefore, with pneumoconiosis, the patient should consult a doctor and start treatment at the first signs and symptoms of the disease. As a rule, those affected are dependent on artificial respiration with oxygen. It should also be noted that most patients with this disease also depend on the help and support of friends and their own family to get by in everyday life.

Loving and intensive conversations are also very important, as this can also prevent depression and other psychological upsets. Regular check-ups by a doctor must also be observed in order to permanently monitor the condition of the lungs. Efforts or physical and stressful activities should also be avoided with this disease. In some cases, pneumoconiosis significantly reduces a person’s life expectancy.

You can do that yourself

Patients affected by pneumoconiosis or pneumoconiosis have been exposed to a harmful substance for a long time, which has accumulated in their lungs and is now causing symptoms. Patients should no longer be exposed to this substance in the future. Under certain circumstances, this can mean that he can no longer continue to practice his profession and has to retrain or retire. This drastic step is necessary to slow down the course of pneumoconiosis.

Pneumoconiosis patients who live in the city should also consider moving to the country. They should ensure that their airways are no longer exposed to substances that could harm them. These include car exhaust fumes and fine dust emissions, which are often found in high concentrations in the city. It goes without saying that you should also refrain from smoking.

Patients with pneumoconiosis can easily contract tuberculosis. The causative agents of this infection settle particularly well in an attacked lung. Therefore, the patients should train their immune system so that it can fight off the tubercle bacilli better. To do this, they should pay attention to the needs of their body and eat light and healthy food and drink plenty of water, tea or thin juices. Plenty of rest and regular bedtimes are recommended.


Pneumonitis is a lung disease that is often recognized very late. The triggers of this disease are not triggered by an infection. Several causes of pneumonitis can interact and also be the result of other diseases.

What is pneumonitis?

Pneumonitis is inflammation in the lung tissue. Pneumonitis is often confused with pneumonia, the classic form of pneumonia. In the case of pneumonitis, the triggers are not bacteria or fungi, but pneumotoxic influences. These are poisonous effects on the lungs. This leads to chronic inflammation in the lung tissue and scarring of the alveoli. Normal oxygen transport via the blood is no longer possible.


Drugs are one of the causes that trigger pneumonitis. Noxa is a substance that has a damaging and pathogenic effect on the human organism. In particular, drugs that are taken during chemotherapy and have to be fed into the body fall into this category. Pneumonitis can also be triggered in the irradiated areas as a side effect of radiotherapy.

Inhaling chemical substances, gases and toxic smoke can also cause pneumonitis. Pneumonitis is also triggered by exogenous allergic alveolitis. It is an allergic-related inflammation of the alveoli (structural elements in the lungs where gas exchange takes place). Substances such as fine dust are inhaled. In rare cases, pneumonitis can also occur as a result of the disease toxoplasmosis.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The first symptoms that appear with pneumonitis are a dry, hacking cough and shortness of breath. In some cases, the body temperature rises sharply and the affected person suffers from fever. A deterioration in the general condition and a typical feeling of illness are observed in the patients. After radiation treatment, these symptoms can appear four to twelve weeks, even several months after therapy.

With the modern techniques used, the incidence of pneumonitis has decreased significantly. The severity of the symptoms that occur depends on the compensation capacity of the lung volume irradiated with a low dose. The symptoms are intensified by so-called superinfections. In particularly severe cases, ARDS, an acute respiratory distress syndrome, can occur.

This is a massive inflammatory response of the human lung to various factors that cause tissue damage. As a result of the increase in pressure in the pulmonary circulation, cor pulmonale can also occur, which means that the heart is under a lot of pressure. Respiratory distress syndrome and cor pulmonale can lead to death.

After several weeks, the pneumonitis usually subsides on its own. Pneumonitis can result in irreversible fibrosis of the lung volume that has been exposed to radiation. Permanent pulmonary dysfunction may occur.

Diagnosis & course of disease

To diagnose pneumonitis, a chest exam is done. Only four to eight weeks after the therapy are X-rays showing milk- glass opacities in the lung tissue. To get a better picture of the lungs, an X-ray is followed by a computer tomography, which shows high-resolution images of the lungs.

Lung function tests also show the first signs of a possible disease. The patient breathes in air and has to breathe it out again in a specific period of time. This allows the doctor to measure how efficiently the lungs are working. An oximeter is often used to help, which can evaluate how much oxygen is in the bloodstream. A clip is attached to the finger. This method is completely painless for the patient.

If a bronchoscopy is performed, it is a lung reflection. An endoscope is inserted through the trachea into the main bronchi. A tissue sample can also be taken from the lungs in this way.


Due to the pneumonitis, those affected suffer from various respiratory problems. This usually leads to shortness of breath and a strong cough. This can also lead to an undersupply of oxygen, so that the affected person appears exhausted and tired. The internal organs can also be irreversibly damaged by this undersupply.

Fever and a general feeling of illness can occur as a result of the illness and have a very negative effect on the patient’s everyday life. Furthermore, strenuous activities or physical stress and sports are usually no longer possible for those affected. Pneumonitis can usually be treated with medication.

Treatment with antibiotics is also necessary for pneumonia. If the person concerned suffers from severe breathing difficulties, therapy with oxygen is necessary. In some cases, pneumonitis can also lead to psychological problems or severe depression. Whether or not treatment of pneumonitis will result in a complete cure cannot be universally predicted. The patient’s life expectancy may also be reduced.

When should you go to the doctor?

Pneumonitis must always be treated by a doctor. If the disease is not treated, in the worst case it can lead to the death of the person affected or to other complications. The doctor should be consulted for pneumonitis if the person concerned suffers from breathing difficulties over a longer period of time.

The disease manifests itself primarily through shortness of breath and a dry cough, even if the person concerned is not exerting himself. Fever can often be a sign of the disease. If these symptoms occur over a longer period of time and do not go away on their own, a doctor must be consulted in any case. Likewise, reduced performance or persistent fatigue can indicate pneumonitis and should be examined.

The initial diagnosis and examination of pneumonitis can be done by a general practitioner or by an ENT specialist. However, since further treatment depends on the exact causes of the pneumonitis, another specialist is usually necessary. Early diagnosis and treatment have a positive effect on the course of the disease.

Treatment & Therapy

For chemically induced pneumonitis, it is advised to withhold treatment with radiation therapy to rid the body of most of the chemical components. This should relieve the symptoms and help to improve. In some cases of pneumonitis, other methods are used to help the inflammation heal.

The administration of corticosteroids causes a suppression of the immune system. This causes a reduction in inflammation in the lungs. Corticosteroids are taken in pill form. Taking it over a long period of time can increase the risk of contracting an infection, as the performance of the immune system is impaired. Ingestion is also associated with the onset of the bone disease osteoporosis.

Oxygen therapy is also necessary if the patient suffers from severe breathing problems. If water collects in the lungs, breathing is severely restricted. Oxygen must be taken into the organism via an oxygen mask or as a result of intubation. Many patients require long-term oxygen therapy. In order to keep the airways open, stents are used to separate the walls between the trachea and the bronchi, especially in the case of tumor-related narrowing.


Regular checks are necessary to quickly identify changes in the lung tissue during radiation therapy. In individual cases, an extended diagnosis is initiated in order to assess the degree of severity. Early dose reduction or a change in therapy can contain the risk of developing pneumonitis and reduce long-term damage. However, if treatment is continued, there is always a risk of developing pneumonitis.


Since pneumonitis is only recognized relatively late in most cases, those affected by this disease usually have only a few and only limited follow-up measures available. Those affected are therefore dependent on a diagnosis as early as possible in order to alleviate the symptoms of the disease and also to avoid other complications.

It cannot heal on its own, so a visit to a doctor is always necessary for this disease. The earlier this is contacted, the better the further course of the disease. The treatment itself is usually carried out with the help of various medications. Those affected should always take it regularly and observe the prescribed dosage.

Likewise, those affected by pneumonitis should not carry out any unnecessary exertion or stressful activities. Therefore, many patients are dependent on the help of other people in their everyday life. Loving conversations have a positive effect on the further course of the disease and can limit or prevent psychological problems in particular. In general, however, pneumonitis reduces the life expectancy of the person affected in many cases.

You can do that yourself

Pneumonitis sufferers should minimize exposure to airborne contaminants. In particular, avoid environments where there is inhalation of nicotine, dyes or other toxins. Smoking should be avoided as part of self-help. Rooms are to be ventilated regularly and stays in nature strengthen the organism.

Since a chronic course of the disease is possible in the further course of the process, the body’s own defense system needs sufficient support at an early stage. A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are essential for this. Being overweight should be avoided and potential stressors reduced. Sleep rhythms must be observed and sleep hygiene must be optimized. Inner strength can be built up using various relaxation techniques. Special breathing techniques also help to alleviate the existing symptoms.

Shortness of breath often occurs with pneumonitis. The patient should learn not to panic. Strong states of anxiety or panic phases intensify the symptoms and thus aggravate the overall situation. In order to cope with the disease, it is important to remain calm at all times and to develop different strategies at an early stage that offer a way out in critical situations. Physical exertion should be avoided. As soon as it comes to carrying out a strenuous activity, regular breaks and timely rest periods must be observed.