ICD-9: 502


Silicosis, also known as grinder’s disease and potter’s rot, results from the inhalation of crystalline silica dust. Silica is a common mineral found naturally in sand and rock. Silica scars lungs and creates small, discrete nodules in the upper lobes of the lungs. As the disease advances, a dense fibrosis of the lungs develops, and emphysema with respiratory impairment may result. The disease is chronic and progressive.


Silica exposure is common in mines and quarries and in a number of occupations, such as sandblasting, foundry work, ceramics, and glassmaking. The occupations most prone to silica exposure are mining, drilling, blasting, grinding, and abrasive manufacturing. Required exposure varies from 2 to 30 years; the average is 10 years.

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Signs and Symptoms

The disease may be asymptomatic even though x-rays exhibit evidence of nodule formation. Dyspnea on exertion generally is the first symptom. A chronic dry cough that later turns productive, tachypnea, pulmonary hypertension, and malaise may result.

Diagnostic Procedures

A thorough medical history revealing exposure to silica dust is essential. Chest x-rays show small, discrete, nodular lesions throughout the lung but concentrated in the upper areas of the lung. Arterial blood gas analyses and pulmonary function tests confirm the diagnosis.


Silicosis is irreversible and cannot be cured. Therefore, treatment is symptomatic. Clients should remove themselves from further exposure to silica and other lung irritants, including tobacco smoking. Cough suppressants may help. Antibiotics are used to prevent TB, which is a common occurrence in silicosis. Chest physiotherapy or bronchial hygiene helps drain the bronchial tubes and bronchioles of mucus. Bronchodilators and oxygen administration can help breathing. Lung transplant may be an option for some.

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Complementary Therapy

Steam inhalation, chest physiotherapy, and controlled coughing can help clients clear secretions. A whole-foods diet is recommended.


Prevention of infections is very important. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are essential.


The prognosis for an individual with silicosis varies unless the disease has progressed to the fibrotic form. The disease can be rapidly fatal depending on the quantity and quality of the silica entering the lungs. Silicosis is always life shortening.


Prevention involves minimizing exposure to silica dust in the work environment. Water spray is often used where there is dust. Air filtering can also reduce dust particles.

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Anthracosis ICD-9: 505 Description Anthracosis, also called black lung disease or coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, is caused by the accumulation of carbon deposits in the lungs. Simple anthracosis shows small lung opacities. Complicated anthracosis exhibits massive fibrosis in the lungs. Etiology Anthracosis results from inhaling smoke or coal dust. Workers in the coal mining industry are those most likely to develop the disease. Anthracosis frequently occurs with silicosis. Exposure of 15 years or longer is usually required before symptoms develop. Signs and Symptoms Exertional dyspnea, productive cough with inkyblack sputum, and recurrent respiratory infections are common symptoms. Diagnostic Procedures A thorough medical history and physical examination revealing exposure to coal dust are essential and may reveal a barrel chest, rales or crackling sounds in the lungs, a rattling in the throat (rhonchi), and wheezing. Chest x-rays, pulmonary function studies, and arterial bloo...
Respiratory mycoses ICD-9: 177.x Description Mycoses (fungal infections) are classified as either superficial or deep. Superficial mycoses affect only the skin and are discussed in Chapter Skin Diseases and Disorders. Deep mycoses are systemic and may complicate other illnesses. The mycoses considered here are deep, systemic fungal infections that extensively affect the lungs: histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, and blastomycosis. Etiology Histoplasmosis, also called Darling disease, is caused by Histoplasma capsulatum. The fungus is found in soil, especially soil contaminated by bird and chicken droppings. The spores become airborne when the contaminated soil is disturbed. The disease is transmitted when the fungal spores are inhaled or penetrate the skin following injury. The primary lesion is in the lungs. Coccidioidomycosis, also called San Joaquin valley fever, is caused by Coccidioides immitis, a fungus common in the dry desert soils of California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. The d...
Berylliosis ICD-9: 503 Description Berylliosis is beryllium poisoning, usually of the lungs. The skin and other bodily organs also may be affected. The acute form of the disease is characterized by the onset of pneumonia-like symptoms and other respiratory tract disorders. The more common, chronic form is characterized by granuloma formation and diffuse interstitial pneumonitis. Etiology Those at risk of contracting berylliosis include workers in primary production, metal machining, and reclaiming scrap alloys. Other high-exposure occupations are in the nuclear power, aerospace, and electronics industries. The metal may be either inhaled or directly absorbed through the skin in the form of dusts, salts, or fumes. As with asbestosis, berylliosis can affect family members who are exposed to dust in the worker’s clothing. Signs and Symptoms After exposure, dry cough and nasal mucosal swelling with ulceration occur. As the condition worsens, substernal pain, tachycardia, dyspnea, weigh...
Acute tonsillitis ICD-9: 463 Description Acute tonsillitis is inflammation of a tonsil, especially one or both of the palatine tonsils that lie on either side of the opening of the throat. It can be acute or chronic. Etiology Tonsillitis is most frequently caused by infection by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus, although a variety of infectious agents may be involved. The condition is a common complication of pharyngitis. Signs and Symptoms Acute tonsillitis is typically manifested by the sudden onset of chills and a high-grade fever with a mild to severe sore throat. Additional symptoms may include malaise, headache, and dysphagia. Chronic tonsillitis causes a recurrent sore throat, tonsillar hypertrophy, and abscess. Diagnostic Procedures On physical examination, the tonsils appear red and swollen. In severe cases, abscesses may be visible on the affected tonsil’s surface. Blood tests may reveal leukocytosis. A throat culture to detect bacteria typical...
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: pulmonary emphysema and chronic bronchitis ICD-9: 491.21 Description Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a functional diagnosis given to any pathological process that decreases the ability of the lungs and bronchi to perform their function of ventilation. It is an umbrella term that includes pulmonary emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD affects 12 million Americans, and it is estimated that 12 million more are undiagnosed. It is a common cause of death and disability in the United States. Pulmonary emphysema (ICD-9:492) is the permanent enlargement of the air spaces beyond the terminal bronchioles resulting from destruction of alveolar walls. As a consequence of this destruction, the lungs slowly lose their normal elasticity. Air reaches the alveoli in the lungs during inhalation but may not be able to escape during exhalation. Evidence suggests that some forms of the emphysema may be hereditary. In rare instances, emphysema is associated with a deficiency of a1-antitrypsin, a protein that plays a role in ...