Byssinosis, also called "brown lung disease" or "Monday fever", is an occupational lung disease caused by exposure to cotton dust in inadequately ventilated working environments. It is not the cotton dust directly that causes the disease, it is endotoxins that come from the cell walls of gram negative bacteria that grow on the cotton that cause the disease. It commonly occurs in workers who are employed in yarn and fabric manufacture industries. Brown lung can ultimately result in narrowing of the trachea in the lungs, destruction of lung tissue and death from infection or respiratory failure.
* Chest tightness * Cough * Wheezing Symptoms will get worse at the beginning of the work week, and then improve while you are away from the workplace, or later in the work week.
Breathing in the dust produced in the textile industry can cause byssinosis. People who are sensitive can have an asthma-like condition after being exposed to dust. In those with asthma, being exposed to the dust makes breathing more difficult, but in byssinosis, the symptoms usually go away by the end of the work week. After long periods of exposure, symptoms can continue throughout the week without improving. Methods of prevention in the U.S. have reduced the number of cases, but byssinosis is still common in developing countries. Smoking increases the risk for this disease. Being exposed to the dust many times can lead to chronic lung disease and shortness of breath or wheezing.
Symptoms usually improve after stopping exposure to the dust. Continued exposure can lead to damaged lung function. In the U.S., worker's compensation may be available to people with byssinosis.
The most important treatment is to stop exposure to the dust. Reducing dust levels in the factory (by improving machinery or ventilation) will help prevent byssinosis. Some people may have to change jobs to avoid further exposure. Medications such as bronchodilators will usually improve symptoms. Corticosteroids may be prescribed in more severe cases. Stopping smoking is very important for people with this condition. Respiratory treatments, including nebulizers and postural drainage, may be prescribed if the condition becomes chronic. Home oxygen therapy may also be needed if blood oxygen levels are low. Physical exercise programs, breathing exercises, and patient education programs are often very helpful for people with a chronic lung disease.