Causes Of Brown Lung Disease: Symptoms & Treatment Guidelines

Brown lung disease or Byssinosis is an uncommon condition of the lungs. It occurs when you inhale hemp, cotton and flax particles and usually presents as asthma.

Brown lung disease is typically seen in people who work with unprocessed cotton. Those who open up bales of flax, cotton or hemp during the initial phase of processing are at greatest risk. It is common in textile workers. It develops when you inhale raw cotton, flax, hemp, and similar materials.

Smoking increases your risk of developing byssinosis. Also, a history of asthma or respiratory related allergy raises your risk.

There is also a type of byssinosis known as grain worker’s lung which develops in those who work with grains.

Guidelines and laws have been made stringent to ensure that the occurrence of byssinosis is kept to a minimum; however, it is very common in the developing countries where safety laws and regulations are not implemented.

Symptoms Of Brown Lung Disease

The symptoms appear at the start of the workweek and characteristically improve at the end of the week. The clinical manifestation is similar to asthma and is seen as – wheezing, tightness in the chest, coughing and breathing difficulty.

In severe cases, you will develop joint pains, fever, chills, fatigue and malaise. The symptoms tend to disappear when you aren’t exposed to the offending particles anymore. On the other hand, the lung function can be permanently affected if the exposure is constant.

Treatment Guidelines For Brown Lung Disease

  • To diagnose brown lung disease, your doctor will understand your job profile as well as order a few tests to verify. You may require X-ray and CT scan of the lungs. Pulmonary function tests also help check lung health.
  • Your health care provider will give you a peak flow meter to assess and evaluate the lungs through the week. This helps the doctor understand how rapidly you can expel air from your lungs. When the breathing gets altered during certain parts of the day or week, this meter helps the doctor to conclude when and where you’re being exposed.
  • The only way to treat byssinosis is to keep away from the harmful particles.
  • To allay your symptoms, your health care provider / chest specialist will prescribe bronchodilators which open up constricted airways.
  • In severe cases, inhaled corticosteroids need to be taken. These help decrease inflammation of the lung tissue. Confer with your doctor about the benefits and side effects of these drugs.
  • If the level of blood oxygen is low, you need oxygen therapy. A nebulizer is advocated in chronic cases.
  • Physical fitness and regular breathing exercises help enhance lung health and lung functioning appreciably.
  • In extreme cases, especially those not responding to medications, you may require to give up the job. Although the symptoms may reduce towards the end of the workweek, the lungs still accumulate the damage. Exposure to cotton, flax and hemp particles over several years cause significant irreversible impairment to the lungs.
  • The disorder is known to fade away once your exposure has been stopped. It isn’t a life-threatening disease. On the other hand, it is very vital that you recognize and steer clear of it to prevent recurrences and lasting damage.