Asbestosis (as-bes-TOE-sis) is a chronic lung disease brought on by inhaling asbestos fibers. Prolonged being exposed to these fibers may cause lung tissue scarring and difficulty breathing. Asbestosis symptoms can range from mild to severe, and usually don't appear until many years after continued exposure.
Asbestos is a natural mineral product that's resistant to heat and corrosion. It had been used extensively previously in items for example insulation, cement, and a few flooring.
Many people with asbestosis acquired it at work before us government started controlling using asbestos and asbestos items within the 1970s. Today, its handling is just controlled. Obtaining asbestosis is very unlikely should you follow your employer's safety methods. Treatment concentrates on reducing your signs and symptoms.
The effects of long-term exposure to asbestos typically don't show up for 10 to 40 years after initial exposure. Asbestosis signs and symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- A persistent, dry cough
- Loss of appetite with weight loss
- Fingertips and toes that appear wider and rounder than normal (clubbing)
- Chest tightness or pain
When to see a doctor
If you have a history of exposure to asbestos, and you're experiencing increasing shortness of breath, talk to your doctor about the possibility of asbestosis.
If you're uncovered to high amounts of asbestos dust on the lengthy period, a few of the airborne fibers may become lodged in your alveoli - the small sacs within your lung area where oxygen is exchanged for CO2 inside your bloodstream. The asbestos fibers irritate and scar lung tissue, resulting in the lung area to get stuff. This will make it hard to breathe.
As asbestosis progresses, a growing number of lung tissue becomes scarred. Eventually, your lung tissue becomes so stiff it can't contract and expand normally. Smoking cigarettes seem to raise the retention of asbestos fibers from the lungs and sometimes results in a faster progress of the disease.
People who worked in mining, milling, manufacturing, installation or removal of asbestos products before the late 1970s are at risk of asbestosis. Examples include:
- Asbestos miners
- Aircraft and auto mechanics
- Building construction workers
- Workers removing asbestos insulation around steam pipes in older buildings
- Shipyard workers
- Boiler operators
- Railroad workers
It's safe to be on materials which are made with asbestos as long as the asbestos fibers are contained. This prevents them from entering into the environment.
If you have asbestosis, you're at increased risk of developing lung cancer — especially if you smoke or have a history of smoking.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to begin by seeing your family members doctor for your disorder's most famous symptom - breathlessness. The individual might refer one to a health care provider dedicated to lung problems (pulmonologist).
What you can do
Before your appointment, you might want to write a list of answers to the following questions:
- What are your symptoms and when did they start?
- Have your symptoms stayed the same or gotten worse?
- What kind of work have you done in your career? Be specific.
- Have you been involved in any home-remodeling projects or other building renovations occurring over an extended period?
- Do you or did you smoke? If so, how much?
- What medications and supplements do you take?
What to expect from your doctor
In the physical exam, your doctor makes use of a stethoscope to listen carefully to your lungs to ascertain if one makes a crackling sound while inhaling.
Tests and diagnosis
Asbestosis can be hard to identify because its signs or symptoms are exactly like those of many other respiratory diseases. Many different diagnostic tests may be needed to help pinpoint the diagnosis.
- Chest X-ray. Advanced Asbestosis appears as excessive whiteness in your lung tissue. If the asbestosis is severe, your entire lungs might be affected, giving them a honeycomb appearance.
- Computerized tomography (CT). CT scans combine a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles to produce cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues inside your body. These scans provide greater detail and might help detect asbestosis in its early stages, even before it shows up on a chest X-ray.
Pulmonary function tests
These tests determine how well your lungs are working. Pulmonary function tests measure exactly how much air your lungs can take and also the airflow inside and out of your lungs. As an example, you may be motivated to blow as hard as you can into an aura-measurement device referred to as a spirometer. The complete pulmonary function tests can measure the amount of oxygen being transferred to your bloodstream.
Treatments and drugs
There's no cure to turn back adverse effects of asbestos about the alveoli. Treatment concentrates on slowing the progress of the disease and relieving symptoms. You'll need routine follow-up care, such as chest X-rays and lung function tests, at regular intervals based on the seriousness of your trouble.
To ease breathing difficulty due to advanced asbestosis, your doctor might prescribe supplemental oxygen. Thin plastic tubing delivers this with prongs that suit into the nostrils or possibly a mask.
If your symptoms are severe, you might be a candidate for a lung transplant.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Quit smoking. Asbestosis increases the risk of cancer of the lung. Stop smoking can reduce this risk. Stay away from secondhand smoke. Smoking may also cause emphysema, which further reduces your lung reserves.
Get vaccinated. Speak with your doctor about flu and pneumonia vaccines, which can help decrease your probability of lung infections. Promptly treat respiratory infections.
Reducing exposure to asbestos is the best prevention against asbestosis. In the states, federal law requires employers in industries that work with asbestos products - including construction - for taking special safety measures.
Many homes built ahead of the 1970s have materials like pipes and floor tiles that include asbestos. There's no cause for concern provided that the asbestos is enclosed and undisturbed. It's when materials containing asbestos are damaged that there's a danger of asbestos fibers being released into the air. However, asbestosis typically occurs only after prolonged being exposed to asbestos fiber.