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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Other Names for this Disease
  • Accelerated silicosis
  • Acute silicosis
  • Chronic silicosis
  • Experimental silicosis
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Your Question

Are muscle twitching, muscle cramps, and muscle pain effects of having silicosis?  What causes silicosis?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is silicosis?

Silicosis is a respiratory disease caused by breathing in (inhaling) silica dust.[1] There are three types of silicosis:[1][2]

  • Simple chronic silicosis, the most common type of silicosis, results from long-term exposure (usually more than 20 years) to low amounts of silica dust. Simple chronic silicosis may cause people to have difficulty breathing. 
  • Accelerated silicosis occurs after 5 to 15 years of exposure of higher levels of silica. Swelling of the lungs and other symptoms occur faster in this type of silicosis than in the simple chronic form. 
  • Acute silicosis results from short-term exposure of large amounts of silica. The lungs become very inflamed and can fill with fluid, causing severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels. Acute silicosis progresses rapidly and can be fatal within months. 

People who work in jobs where they are exposed to silica dust (mining, quarrying, construction, sand blasting, stone cutting) are at risk of developing this condition.[1]

Last updated: 11/3/2010

Can muscle twitching, muscle cramps, and muscle pain be effects of silicosis?

While muscle symptoms are not generally associated with silicosis, there is at least one report in the medical literature describing muscle symptoms (ataxic sensory neuropathy) in individuals with long-standing silicosis. To read an article describing two patients with this association, click here.
Last updated: 11/3/2010

What are the symptoms of silicosis?

Symptoms of silicosis may include:[1][2] 

Other symptoms of this disease, especially in acute silicosis, may also include:[1][2]

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Severe breathing difficulty
  • Weight loss
  • Night Sweats
  • Chest pains
Last updated: 11/3/2010

What causes silicosis?

Silicosis is caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica dust. When people breathe silica dust, they inhale tiny particles of silica that has crystallized. This silica dust can cause fluid buildup and scar tissue in the lungs that cuts down the ability to breathe.[2]
Last updated: 11/3/2010