What Are the Symptoms of Dust Pneumonia?

Written by megan allyce snider
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What Are the Symptoms of Dust Pneumonia?
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Many cases of dust pneumonia occurred during the Dust Bowl during the 1930s. Massive amounts of dust were kicked up and carried by the wind through a huge portion of the central and southern U.S. Because of the poor condition of finances, many people perished from the disease. The exact number is not known still to this day. There are observable and recorded symptoms of dust pneumonia. In the 1930s, there was no cure for dust pneumonia. Each case is different, of course, but there was general health deterioration seen in people experiencing dust pneumonia.

Defining Dust Pneumonia

Dust Pneumonia is also called chemical pneumonia because it involves the repeated inhalation of a foreign particle into the lungs. The alveoli of the lungs are irritated, thus causing pneumonia. There are different things that can be inhaled, intentionally or accidentally, which may lead to pneumonia as well, such as toxins, chemicals and noxious gases.

Dust Pneumonia Diagnosis

The diagnosis of dust pneumonia depends on a lot of things such as age, health, exposure time to the foreign element, strength of the foreign element inhaled and prior or coexisting illnesses.

Dust Pneumonia Symptoms

Dust Pneumonia symptoms are severe and painful. They include high fever, chest pain, difficulty with breathing and shortness of breath, painful breathing and frequent coughing in an effort to expel the dust from the lungs. Additional possible symptoms are burning of the nose, eyes, lips, mouth, and throat, having a dry cough or a wet cough producing clear, yellow, or green mucus. Coughing could also produce blood or frothy pink matter in spit. Nausea or abdominal pain may be present. Other symptoms include pleuritis, which is an inflammation on the outside of the lungs, headache, flu-like symptoms, weakness and feeling of illness, delirium, disorientation and confusion.

Expert Insight

Doctors are trained to see symptoms that a patient may not see in himself. Some expert observations may be shallow breathing or a rapid pulse, sweating, pale skin and lips, swelling in tongue or eyes, hoarse voice, and confusion, unconsciousness or disorientation. All of these symptoms help to cement a diagnosis and possible treatments employed at the current time. The simple solution for dust pneumonia is a preventive vaccine.


Dust pneumonia may still occur, but it is highly rare since the U.S. has not experienced a second Dust Bowl since the 1930s. Knowing the symptoms are still important for marginal cases and treatment if the dust pneumonia kicks up again.

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