In short, doctors refer to this disease as silicosis. This is often an occupational disease in which a person exposed to fine silica dust suffers from inflammation in the lungs that tends to heal by scarring. This reduces the vital capacity of the lungs, making the patient breathless. This condition is mistaken for other respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis or pneumonia.
A person consistently exposed to small amounts of such dust, as when cutting stone, tends to develop a chronic state of the disease. Such people manifest symptoms of chronic bronchitis and also lose weight gradually over a period of time. A number of patients lose their appetite and become malnourished. The condition makes them more susceptible to tuberculosis; and in such cases, a complex disease known as silicotuberculosis may develop in which both conditions co-exist.
However, people who are involved in drilling or shaping stone using electrical appliances instead of hand tools automatically expose themselves to large amounts of this dust. If they do not wear protective gear such as a face mask, the chances are that they will develop an acute state of the disease, which is characterized by laborious breathing, chest pain, cough, fever, and weakness. If the disease is very severe, the patient may develop cyanosis (blueness of the skin and mucus membranes) due to decreased oxygenation. If neglected, it can lead to heart failure and death.
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