Does Black Lung Disease Cause Emphysema?

Ask the experts

What, if anything, does black lung disease have to do with emphysema?

Doctor's response

Yes, there is an important connection between black lung disease and emphysema.

Black lung disease is a lung condition that is the direct result of coal mining. The silica mineral and carbon in the dust raised by coal mining can cause serious chronic (long-lasting) lung disease.

Emphysema occurs as the first pathologic sign of black lung disease. While not all emphysema is due to black lung disease, all black lung of clinical significance tends to cause emphysema.

After the emphysema strikes silently in black lung disease, there comes scarring of the lungs and nodule formation in the lung tissues. The symptoms and breathing function test results in patients with black lung disease are often much worse than the chest X-ray picture would suggest. There is, unfortunately, no specific treatment for black lung disease.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018