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Alternative namesCotton worker's lung; Cotton bract disease
DefinitionByssinosis is an occupational disease of the lungs caused by inhalation of cotton dust or dusts from other vegetable fibers such as flax, hemp, or sisal (see also Occupational asthma ).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Inhalation of the dust produced by industrial processing of textiles can cause byssinosis. An asthma-like condition results from exposure to dust in sensitive individuals.
Preventative measures in the U.S. have reduced the number of cases, but it remains common in developing countries. Smoking increases the risk for this disease. Repeated exposure to the offending substances may lead to chronic lung disease and shortness of breath or wheezing.
Signs and tests
Your health care provider will take a detailed medical history, including many questions to try to relate your symptoms to specific exposures or times of exposure. A physical exam, with special attention to the lungs is also done. Other tests include:
The most important treatment is to remove the source of exposure to the offending agent. Reduction of dust levels within the factory by improving machinery or ventilation will help prevent byssinosis. Some people may have to change jobs to avoid further exposure.
Medications such as bronchodilators will usually improve symptoms. Corticosteroids may be prescribed in more severe cases.
Support GroupsAttending support groups with others who are affected by similar diseases can often help you understand your disease and adjust to the treatments and lifestyle changes required.
Expectations (prognosis)Symptoms usually improve after stopping exposure to the offending dust. Continued exposure may lead to chronic impairment of lung function. In the U.S., worker's compensation is available to those affected by byssinosis.
ComplicationsChronic lung disease may develop.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms of byssinosis occur.
PreventionUse of dust control measures, face masks, and other measures in industrial settings may reduce the risk. Stop smoking, especially if you work in textile manufacturing.
Update Date: 10/22/2003Allen J. Blaivas, D.O., Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, University Hospital, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT