(See also Overview of Environmental and Occupational Pulmonary Disease Overview of Environmental and Occupational Pulmonary Diseases Environmental and occupational pulmonary diseases result from inhalation of dusts, chemicals, gases, fumes, and other airborne exposures. The lungs are continually exposed to the external environment... read more .)
Etiology of Byssinosis
Byssinosis is an asthma-like syndrome that occurs in textile workers who come into contact with unprocessed, raw cotton, flax, or hemp. Specific textile mill jobs are associated with a higher risk of byssinosis.
Evidence suggests that inhalation of bacterial endotoxin in the cotton dust leads to bronchoconstriction, chronic bronchitis, and a gradual decrease in pulmonary function, particularly in genetically susceptible people.
Symptoms and Signs of Byssinosis
Symptoms include chest tightness and dyspnea that lessen with repeated exposure. Symptoms develop on the first day of work after a weekend or vacation and diminish or disappear with subsequent continuous workdays. This typical temporal pattern distinguishes byssinosis from asthma Asthma Asthma is a disease of diffuse airway inflammation caused by a variety of triggering stimuli resulting in partially or completely reversible bronchoconstriction. Symptoms and signs include dyspnea... read more .
Textile workers with chronic exposure to cotton or other dusts (eg, 5 to 10 years or more) can develop obstructive lung disease that has features of both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is airflow limitation caused by an inflammatory response to inhaled toxins, often cigarette smoke. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and various occupational... read more (COPD) (1 Symptoms and signs reference Byssinosis is a form of reactive airways disease characterized by bronchoconstriction that occurs in cotton, flax, and hemp workers. Evidence suggests the etiologic agent is bacterial endotoxin... read more ).
Symptoms and signs reference
Diagnosis of Byssinosis
History of exposure and results of pulmonary function tests
Diagnosis of byssinosis is based on history of exposure to cotton, flax, or hemp dust and pulmonary function tests Overview of Tests of Pulmonary Function Pulmonary function tests provide measures of airflow, lung volumes, gas exchange, response to bronchodilators, and respiratory muscle function. Basic pulmonary function tests available in the... read more that show airflow obstruction.
Surveillance measures, including symptom reporting and spirometry in textile workers, can aid in early detection.
Treatment of Byssinosis
Medications that treat asthma and COPD
Treatment of byssinosis includes avoidance or reduction of exposure and use of medications that treat COPD Treatment Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is airflow limitation caused by an inflammatory response to inhaled toxins, often cigarette smoke. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and various occupational... read more and asthma Drug Treatment of Asthma Major drug classes commonly used in the treatment of asthma and asthma exacerbations include Bronchodilators (beta-2 agonists, anticholinergics) Corticosteroids Leukotriene modifiers Mast cell... read more .
Dust exposure can be reduced by wetting procedures, increases in general ventilation, and the use of exhaust hoods. For some tasks, respiratory protection may be required in addition to engineering control measures. Workers with persistent symptoms or in whom pulmonary function tests indicate significant obstruction should be moved to areas of lower exposure.