Black lung disease affects workers in the coal industry, and sometimes the full effect of this serious medical condition is not known for many years after exposure. If you have worked around coal products in the past, or are still working in that industry, you may be entitled to workers' compensation payments if you are suffering from black lung disease. Read on for more information about this serious ailment and how to seek compensation.

The Cause of Black Lung Disease

When you work around coal dust, you can inhale tiny dust particles into your lungs, where they lodge and cause problems. Your body's defense system tries to protect you from these foreign bodies by forming scar tissue around the tiny particles. The scar tissue builds up over time, resulting in less space for doing what lungs need to do: to breath in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

It may take a while for you to begin showing symptoms of this condition, and in the early stages of the disease the symptoms may be confused with a bad cold. You may notice a dry, hacking cough, a feeling of tiredness and shortness of breath in the earlier stages.

How to Know That You Have Black Lung Disease

To get workers' compensation coverage, seek medical attention as soon as you begin to feel the symptoms and make sure that the doctor notes that your condition is work-related. Three different diagnostic tests are used to determine if you have black lung disease and the extent of damage to your breathing ability. The last two measure your ability to take in oxygen and to exhale carbon dioxide.

1. A chest x-ray.

2. A pulmonary function test.

3. An arterial blood gas test.

What to do Next

Unfortunately, black coal disease cannot be cured, but you can learn to live with the condition with proper treatment, which involves easing your breathing with the use of medication inhalers and oxygen therapy. It's very important to have your working conditions adjusted if you are still working in the coal industry. Your condition will only worsen with continued exposure to coal dust.

It's vital that you gain workers' compensation benefits by reporting your condition to your supervisor and ensuring that a claim is filed on your behalf. The sooner you report and gain get medical and lost wages benefits, the sooner you can begin to recover and deal with your disease.

The Black Lung Benefits Act is a federal program created for workers that are permanently and totally disabled as a result of this condition. This program also pays benefits, but there is a total dollar amount limit for both workers' comp and the federal program when used together.

Contact a workers' comp lawyer—like those at John J Bublewicz Attorney At Law and other firms—as soon as possible for assistance with filing your claim and getting you the compensation you deserve for your black lung disease.