There isn't a specific treatment for silicosis, which is caused from breathing in silica particles, says the American Lung Association. Silica is the main component in glass, according to British Glass. Silicosis is a fatal condition; the only treatments available are to ease symptoms.
Antibiotics may be prescribed for infections in the lungs, and oxygen or bronchodilators are prescribed to help patients with silicosis breathe, according to the American Lung Association. Cough syrup is also prescribed in some cases. People with silicosis are also regularly tested for tuberculosis and advised to stay away from smoke, air pollution and allergens.
Silicosis is most often an occupation-related condition, according to the American Lung Association and the Cleveland Clinic. Some occupations that have high silica exposure risks are mining, demolition, drywall finishing, masonry work and abrasive blasting. It is estimated that roughly 2 million Americans are exposed to silica on the job, and 100,000 are at risk for developing silicosis.
People with silicosis can live for years or only months, depending on the severity of exposure to silica and the type of silicosis, according to the American Lung Association. Exposure over long periods of time to small amounts of silica dust is as deadly as being exposed to large amounts of silica very quickly. Silicosis causes the lungs to swell, fill with fluid and stiffen from scarring, making breathing difficult.