Berylliosis is a relatively rare industrial disease that is caused by exposure to beryllium and its compounds which causes a chronic lung disease in the sufferer. Workers that are employed in the aerospace, nuclear, telecommunications, semi-conductor beryllium mining and electrical industries most commonly develop the condition.
Prolonged exposure to beryllium via inhalation can cause berylliosis. The onset of berylliosis can show when the lungs become hypersensitive to beryllium which causes small inflammatory nodules to develop – these are known as granulomas. Granulomas can be seen in other diseases such as sarcoidosis and tuberculosis so it is important that diagnosis distinguishes correctly between these disorders.
Common symptoms include shortness of breath, a cough, chest pain, joint aches, fever and possible weight loss. This can all culminate towards reduced lung capacity. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition although symptoms can be treated.
Symptoms can develop if someone has been exposed to beryllium over time and the disease can take several years to develop. On the other hand it has been known for individuals to develop the disease after just one instance of beryllium inhalation.