Silicosis Treatment & Management

  • Author: Basil Varkey, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
Updated: Dec 16, 2015

Medical Care

Note the following:

  • Prevent further exposure to silica dust.
  • Strongly advise patients to quit smoking and provide help in smoking cessation efforts.
  • Immunize patients against influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • No specific therapy for silicosis cures or alters the course of the disease.
  • Corticosteroids may be of benefit in acute silicosis.[14, 15] In chronic silicosis, they are unlikely to be of benefit, although pulmonary function improvement was noted in one study.[16]
  • Selectively in patients with very advanced disease without other comorbid conditions, lung transplantation may be an option.
  • Experimental (unproven) approaches to treatment include whole-lung lavage, aluminum inhalation, and parenteral administration of polyvinyl pyridine N-oxide.
  • Latent tuberculosis infection (ie, positive tuberculin skin test result without active disease) should be treated with isoniazid (see Medication). A 10-mm induration is considered a positive test result in this population.
  • Active tuberculosis (ie, Mycobacterium tuberculosis identified in smear or culture) should be treated with appropriate multiple drugs (see Medication) according to the most recently established guidelines.[17]
  • Complications (eg, airflow obstruction, cor pulmonale, respiratory failure), should they occur, should be treated appropriately.

Surgical Care

Selectively in patients with very advanced silicosis and without other significant comorbid conditions, lung transplantation should be considered.



Consulting a pulmonologist is appropriate for evaluation of lung nodules, pulmonary function assessment, and disability evaluation, as well as treatment of mycobacterial disease and complications of advanced silicosis.



No dietary restrictions are necessary.



No restrictions on activity are necessary.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Basil Varkey, MD, FCCP Professor Emeritus, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Medical College of Wisconsin; Consulting Pulmonologist, Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital

Basil Varkey, MD, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Anita B Varkey, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Loyola University Medical Center; Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency; Medical Director, General Internal Medicine Clinic, Loyola Outpatient Center

Anita B Varkey, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, Society of General Internal Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP Geri and Richard Brawerman Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Professor and Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine, Medical Director, Women's Guild Lung Institute, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Federation for Medical Research, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Gregory Tino, MD Director of Pulmonary Outpatient Practices, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and Hospital

Gregory Tino, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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