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Definition of BYSSINOSIS
: an occupational respiratory disease associated with inhalation of cotton, flax, or hemp dust and characterized initially by chest tightness, shortness of breath, and cough and eventually by irreversible lung disease
New Latin, from Latin byssinus of fine linen, from Greek byssinos, from byssos
First Known Use: 1881
Medical Definition of BYSSINOSIS
: an occupational respiratory disease associated with inhalation of cotton, flax, or hemp dust and characterized initially by chest tightness, shortness of breath, and cough, and eventually by irreversible lung disease—called also brown lung, brown lung disease, mill fever
Respiratory disorder caused by an endotoxin produced by bacteria found in the fibres of cotton. The disorder is common among textile workers. In addition, the endotoxin stimulates histamine release; air passages constrict, making breathing difficult. Over time the endotoxin accumulates in the lung, producing a typical brown discoloration. First recognized in the 17th century, byssinosis today is seen in most cotton-producing regions of the world. Several years of exposure to cotton fibres are needed before byssinosis develops. In advanced stages, it causes chronic, irreversible obstructive lung disease. Though endotoxin in cotton is by far the most common cause, endotoxins found in flax, hemp, and other organic fibres can also produce byssinosis.