Occupational Lung Disease

Comprehensive Pulmonary

Pulmonologist located in Bakersfield, CA

If you’ve been coughing and experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain, it could be from exposure to airway irritants such as dust and chemicals in the workplace that can have a negative impact on your respiratory health. Triple board-certified pulmonologist Alpha J. Anders, MD, FCCP, at Comprehensive Pulmonary Care in Bakersfield, California, has the expertise to diagnose and treat occupational lung diseases such as asthma. If you experience difficulty breathing after exposure to harmful respiratory irritants at work, call Comprehensive Pulmonary Care or book an appointment online today.

Occupational Lung Disease Q & A

What are occupational lung diseases?

Occupational lung diseases occur when long-term or repeated exposure to airway irritants at work leads to lasting effects on your respiratory system. Inhaling harmful particles from irritants such as dust or chemical fumes may cause damage to your lung tissue.

Your body may also absorb smaller particles into your bloodstream. Inhaling certain particles, such as asbestos, may lead to lung cancer.

Examples of occupational lung diseases include:

  • Occupational asthma
  • Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (black lung)
  • Asbestosis
  • Silicosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)


The type of condition you develop depends on the airway irritant you’re exposed to at work. Some are caused by inhaling dust near mines or airborne asbestos fibers in older homes.

What are the symptoms of occupational lung diseases?

Occupational lung diseases share many symptoms with other lung diseases, such as asthma. Signs and symptoms of occupational lung diseases include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness and pain


The best way to find out if you have an occupational lung disease such as COPD is to schedule an appointment at Comprehensive Pulmonary Care.

What causes occupational lung diseases?

Firefighters and people who work in mines aren’t the only ones exposed to airway irritants. Farmers, construction workers, and people who work with metals are also at higher risk of developing a lung disease like COPD.

There are many different airway irritants that may cause respiratory problems over time. Common examples of workplace substances that may lead to lung disease include:

  • Asbestos
  • Silica
  • Coal dust
  • Hemp, flax, or cotton dust
  • Fungus from moldy hay or bird droppings
  • Chemical gases or fumes


Occupational lung diseases can be prevented by avoiding the inhaled substance. Also, cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing an occupational lung disease and is the leading cause of COPD.

How are occupational lung diseases diagnosed and treated?

First, Dr. Anders performs a thorough physical exam and reviews your medical history. He asks questions about where you work and the type of irritants you may inhale. He may also recommend diagnostics such as a chest X-ray or blood tests to diagnose your specific condition.

Then, Dr. Anders created a personalized treatment plan to control your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Treatment varies depending on your particular illness, but may include taking medications and avoiding the substance that caused your respiratory condition.

To learn more about occupational lung diseases, call Comprehensive Pulmonary Care or schedule an appointment online today.

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