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In recent years, the term “popcorn lung” has become a buzzword that’s echoed in health circles. It is not merely a term from folklore, but a severe respiratory condition scientifically known as bronchiolitis obliterans. It’s important to note that popcorn lung is also a legal term. In many cases, popcorn lung diagnoses occur among those exposed in the workplace. As such, workers should understand the symptoms and their rights should they develop the condition due to workplace exposure.
Early detection is key to the best outcome after a popcorn lung diagnosis. Symptoms and early warning signs of this condition, its causes, and common exposure areas. Further, you need a proper diagnosis to pursue a popcorn lung lawsuit against a company for negligence that led to your health condition.
How Can I Sue my Employer for a Popcorn Lung Diagnosis?
Suing an employer for popcorn lung essentially revolves around the concept of occupational safety. In fact, these lawsuits hinge on an employer’s duty of care toward their employees. If your employer fails to protect you from harmful exposure to substances such as diacetyl, it entitles you to compensation.
Diacetyl and Its Entry into the Lungs in Coffee Roasting Factories
Diacetyl is a naturally occurring volatile compound that can be formed during the fermentation process in many food products, including dairy, beer, and even coffee. In the context of coffee production, diacetyl can be present due to the fermentation process that the coffee beans undergo, as well as the roasting process. This compound is primarily inhaled through the respiratory tract, where it first comes into contact with the lung tissue.
How Does Lung Damage Occur?
Our legal team will examine your medical records if you’ve been diagnosed with popcorn lung. This examination will determine how and to what extent your lungs were damaged.
Generally speaking, lung damage from diacetyl can occur in a few ways, including the following:
- Irritation of the Airways: Diacetyl can irritate the mucous membranes lining the airways, leading to
inflammation and swelling. Chronic exposure can exacerbate this irritation, causing persistent symptoms such as coughing and wheezing.
- Damage to the Bronchioles: The primary site of damage is the bronchioles, the small air passages in the lungs. Diacetyl induces a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans, where the bronchioles become inflamed and narrowed, eventually leading to scarring and obstruction.
- Disruption of the Alveolar Structure: Diacetyl can also affect the alveoli, small air sacs where oxygen exchange occurs. Damage to the alveoli can lead to decreased oxygen uptake, causing symptoms like shortness of breath.
Development of Diacetyl’s Physical Harms
By reviewing your medical records, our legal team will begin to assemble a timeline of how the diacetyl affected you physically. For example, they may outline the mechanisms underlying the harmful effects of diacetyl on lung tissue as follows:
- Oxidative Stress: Inhalation of diacetyl can induce oxidative stress in lung cells, leading to cell damage and death.
- Fibrotic Response: The body responds to the injury caused by diacetyl by initiating a wound-healing response that includes the deposition of fibrous tissue in the bronchioles, leading to scarring and narrowing of the airways.
- Hyperreactivity: Diacetyl exposure can cause hyperreactivity in the airways, leading to increased sensitivity to other irritants and exacerbating respiratory symptoms.
After your popcorn lung diagnosis, our team will ask you
about what life is like for you now. The reason is that exposure to diacetyl triggers an immunological response, which includes the following aspects:
- Inflammatory Response: The body responds to diacetyl exposure by releasing inflammatory mediators that lead to swelling and redness in the lung tissue.
- Cytokine Release: The immune system releases cytokines, signaling molecules that facilitate the immune response, leading to increased inflammation and tissue damage.
Symptoms and Early Warning Signs
Early detection of popcorn lung is pivotal in managing its progression. The symptoms often develop gradually and might be easily confused with other respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
If you notice any of the following prominent signs, seek immediate medical attention:
- Dry cough: A persistent dry cough that doesn’t seem to abate over time could be a warning sign.
- Shortness of breath: If you find yourself experiencing shortness of breath during activities that did not previously cause this issue, it could be a cause for concern.
- Wheezing: A high-pitched sound while breathing, indicative of obstructed air passages.
- Unexplained exhaustion: Feeling excessively tired without a clear cause can be a sign of declining lung function.
- Skin irritation: Although not a direct symptom, people with popcorn lung sometimes experience skin irritation, possibly due to exposure to harmful chemicals.
Unsure if You Have Popcorn Lung? Consider Where You May Have Been Exposed
Understanding the primary sources of exposure to harmful substances that can trigger popcorn lung is critical to avoiding the onset of this condition. Here are common places and scenarios where exposure may occur:
- Manufacturing Plants: Individuals working in factories where diacetyl is used, such as popcorn production plants, and coffee roasting plants, are at high risk.
- Vaping: Using e-cigarettes and vaping devices, especially those containing flavored liquids, can increase your risk of exposure to diacetyl and other harmful chemicals.
- Fumigation and Cleaning Services: People in the cleaning and fumigation industries may potentially be exposed to chemicals linked to popcorn lung through the inhalation of cleaning agents.
*As noted by a Facebook user on a recent Carlson Law Firm post, those who smoke, or inhale illicit drugs may exhibit a condition similar to popcorn lung, known as crack lung.
File a Popcorn Lung Lawsuit With Our Help
Popcorn lung is a serious respiratory condition with symptoms that can easily be mistaken for other respiratory illnesses. Early detection is vital, and knowing the early warning signs can be a lifesaver. Safe environments are the best prevention method. Workplaces where employees might be exposed to diacetyl need to take precautions. If you suspect you have symptoms of popcorn lung, seek medical advice promptly to facilitate early intervention and management. If you believe you developed the condition from workplace exposure, schedule a free consultation with our popcorn lung lawsuit attorneys.
Finally, stay informed, stay vigilant, and prioritize your lung health.