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Pneumoconiosis: A serious risk for coal miners

Pneumoconiosis leads to shortness of breath and coughing. The condition is associated with individuals who have spent time in coal mines. It is subject to special provisions in the state's workers' compensation program. These include enhanced benefits for vocational rehabilitation and income replacement.

Typically, workers who weren't provided with respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are the ones who will suffer from this condition. One problematic factor of pneumoconiosis is that it usually doesn't have any symptoms in the early stages of the condition. As it gets worse, sufferers will start to experience symptoms like becoming more breathless than usual when they do physical activity, and some might experience this when they are resting.

Eventually, pneumoconiosis can lead to low blood oxygen levels, but patients might not realize this is going on. This deprives the body's organs of the oxygen they need to function, which can lead to long-lasting problems.

Seeking immediate medical care when you notice symptoms can help you start receiving treatments before things get too bad. There aren't any treatments for this condition, so the goal is to help patients manage the symptoms as long as possible. In the most severe cases, a lung transplant might be necessary for the person to live a full life.

Because this is a chronic condition, managing it can be costly over a lifetime. Workers' compensation coverage might help an individual make ends meet and get the care they need. The vocational rehabilitation aspect of the program might benefit workers who are sick and are still able to hold a job but need to find something that they can do.

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Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks & Baechtold

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Richmond, KY 40475

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