Chronic Beryllium Disease

At this time, there is no cure for chronic beryllium disease. However, treatment is available that can help slow the progression of the disease, prevent further lung damage caused by scarring, improve oxygen levels in the bloodstream and manage symptoms.

Treatment depends on the severity of your disease and symptoms and may include the following:

Immunospressive Drugs

Prednisone is the immunosuppressive drug most commonly prescribed to patients with CBD. Prednisone slows the immune system's response to the beryllium in the lungs and helps decrease symptoms while improving gas exchange between the lungs and bloodstream. Patients are usually given a course of prednisone that is gradually decreased over a period of time. Over time, however, prednisone can cause side effects. It is important to discuss these side effects with your doctor before starting treatment.

Oxygen Therapy

As the disease progresses, patients may find it increasingly difficult to breathe on their own and may require supplemental oxygen. Therapy is delivered in three systems: concentrators, compressed gas systems and liquid systems. The system that best meets your needs will depend on the severity of your disease, lifestyle and where you live. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages, which you should discuss with your doctor.

Oxygen can be delivered by a number of devices, such as a small plastic tube placed under the nostrils, called a cannula, facemask and Transtracheal Oxygen Catheter, which is a thin tube placed in the neck that delivers oxygen directly to the windpipe. This device is used for continuous, long-term oxygen therapy.

Lung Transplant

In severe cases, lung transplant may be recommended.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.