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Byssinosis is caused by a narrowing of the airways caused by inhaling cotton, flax or hemp particles. Brown lung disease is thought to result from endotoxins released by bacteria present in cotton dust which cause constriction of the airways. Symptoms are usually more pronounced when returning to work after a weekend, holiday or vacation and subside as the worker becomes re-accustomed to the environment.
In the early stages the small airways of the lungs (the bronchioles) become inflamed which may cause wheezing and tightness in the chest, coughing and breathlessness. The symptoms may disappear completely if the person avoids any further exposure to the dust. However, once extensive lung damage has been done, the condition may be permanent.
Prolonged exposure to cotton dust increases the frequency of symptoms (cough, chest tightness) and leads to permanent lung disease, which can sometimes be disabling. Workers who also smoke cigarettes suffer the most severe impairment.
The use of exhaust hoods, improving ventilation and employing wetting procedures are very successful methods of controlling dust levels to prevent byssinosis. Protective equipment required during certain procedures may also prevent exposure to dust inhalation.
Antihistamines may be prescribed to reduce tightness in the chest. Bronchodilators (drugs used to relax breathing passages and improve air flow) may be used with an inhaler or taken in tablet form. However these only reduce symptoms rather than cure the disease.
If you suffer from brown lung disease which is the result of your employer failing to take adequate care to protect you from such injury, then our byssinosis solicitors can help you to get the compensation you deserve.LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 339 958
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here