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Berylliosis Causes

Berylliosis, or CBD, is an occupationally acquired lung disease caused by exposure to beryllium, either by inhalation or contact through broken skin. Genetic predisposition seems to have play a majot role in the development of berylliosis. A variant of the major histocompatibility complex HLA-DPb1( or Glu 69) was found in 97% of patients with the disease and only in 30% of controls. In this genetic variant, glutamine is delievered instead of lysine at position 69 of the beta region of class II of the major histocompatibility complex. This genotype marks the susceptibility to CBD, but it is cannot be utilized as a screening test due to its high prevalence in the general population of less than 30%.

Berylliosis Definition

Berylliosis, also known as chronic beryllium disorder (CBD), is an occupational lung disease. It is a chronic allergic-type lung response and chronic lung disease that results from exposure to beryllium and its compounds. Berylliosis is incurable but its symptoms can be treated.

Berylliosis Prevalence

A small percentage of exposed persons, from 1-10%, develop beryllium hypersensitivity and a portion of these go on to develop the chronic disease. Attack rates can be as high as 16% in certain worker populations with higher exposures. The attack rate is usually highest in areas of highest exposure. The disease also has been reported in populations with very low exposure to beryllium, such as secretaries, who are not involved in the manufacturing process.

Berylliosis Symptoms and Signs

With single or prolonged exposure by inhalation, the lungs become supersensitive to beryllium resulting to the development of small inflammatory nodules, called granulomas. Granulomas can be seen in other chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis and sarcoidosis, and it can sometimes be hard to distinguish berylliosis from these disorders. Ultimately, this process results to restrictive lung disease, a decreased diffusion capacity. Patients affected by berylliosis experience cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms of the disease include chest pain, joint aches, weight loss and fever. One can rarely get granulomas in other organs including the liver. The start of symptoms can range from weeks up to dozens of years from the initial exposure. In some individuals a single exposure can already result to berylliosis.

Berylliosis Treatment

People with a sensitivity to beryllium or early-stage berylliosis should be moved from tasks that involve beryllium exposure and regularly examined to determine whether the disease has progressed. Acute berylliosis is a very serious disease that occasionally may lead to death. Ventilators can help acutely affected patients breathe. Prompt corticosteroid therapy is needed to dicrease lung inflammation.

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