What causes silicosis?

Silicosis is caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica dust. When people breathe silica dust, they inhale tiny particles of silica that has crystallized. This silica dust can cause fluid buildup and scar tissue in the lungs that cuts down the ability to breathe.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Can muscle twitching, muscle cramps, and muscle pain be effects of silicosis?

While muscle symptoms are not generally associated with silicosis, there is at least one report in the medical literature describing muscle symptoms (ataxic sensory neuropathy) in individuals with long-standing silicosis. To read an article describing two patients with this association, click here.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is silicosis?

Silicosis is a respiratory disease caused by breathing in (inhaling) silica dust. There are three types of silicosis:

  • Simple chronic silicosis, the most common type of silicosis, results from long-term exposure (usually more than 20 years) to low amounts of silica dust. Simple chronic silicosis may cause people to have difficulty breathing.
  • Accelerated silicosis occurs after 5 to 15 years of exposure of higher levels of silica. Swelling of the lungs and other symptoms occur faster in this type of silicosis than in the simple chronic form.
  • Acute silicosis results from short-term exposure (weeks or months) of large amounts of silica. The lungs become very inflamed and can fill with fluid, causing severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels. A cough, weight loss, and fatigue may also be present. Acute silicosis progresses rapidly and can be fatal within months.

People who work in jobs where they are exposed to silica dust (mining, quarrying, construction, sand blasting, stone cutting) are at risk of developing this condition.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: American Lung Association 55 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 1150
Chicago, IL, 60601, United States
Toll Free: 1-800-548-8252 (1-800-LUNGUSA) Email: Url:

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