Last Updated on August 24, 2020 by Kirsty Smithson
In this guide we’ll be discussing what exactly asbestosis is, the common asbestosis symptoms, causes of the disease and diagnosis.
So to begin with, you may be asking yourself ‘What is Asbestosis?’
To summarise, asbestosis is a lung disease that develops as a result of asbestos exposure.
The disease develops when asbestos fibers that are inhaled cause scarring on the lungs.
This scarring on the lungs results in your breathing being restricted
It prevents your lung tissue from expanding and contracting normally, therefore making it more difficult for oxygen to enter your bloodstream.
Asbestosis is also medically known as pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial pneumonitis.
Most people who develop the disease have done so as a result of workplace asbestos exposure pre the 1999 asbestos ban in the UK.
It take many years for this asbestos related disease to develop following exposure.
There is currently no cure for asbestosis, but the symptoms can be treated.
Here is a list of common asbestosis symptoms to look out for:-
Bear in mind that it can take up to 20 years on average for any asbestosis symptoms to appear.
So what causes Asbestosis?
Before the UK ban on Asbestos in 1999, where the import and use of all asbestos was strictly forbidden, asbestos was used extensively in construction and fireproofing jobs.
As a result, anyone who has worked with or been exposed to asbestos in the workplace before it was banned is at higher risk of developing asbestosis.
There is also strong clinical evidence to suggest that those people that smoke AND have also been exposed to asbestos are at much higher risk of developing asbestosis symptoms and other related diseases.
If you think you may be suffering from asbestosis symptoms and have been exposed to asbestos for a number of years, then you can visit your Doctor who will be able to perform several different tests to determine whether or not you have asbestosis.
They will also be able to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms to this lung disease.
Your doctor will normally begin by using a stethoscope to listen for abnormal breathing sounds as part of a physical examination.
The doctor may also proceed to order X-rays to look for a white or honeycomb appearance on your lungs or chest, which are typical asbestosis symptoms.
Other tests will include Pulmonary lung function tests which will measure the amount of air you can inhale and the airflow going to and from your lungs.
Another test that your doctor might perform will be to see how much oxygen is transferred from your lungs to your bloodstream.
In order to look at the condition of your lungs in much more detail, a CT scan can be performed.
Your doctor may also decide to order a biopsy to look for asbestos fibers in a sample of your lung tissue.
As we’ve already mentioned, unfortunately there is no cure (as of yet) for asbestosis, but there are treatments available to help ease or reduce asbestosis symptoms.
Firstly, some patients will find relief by the loosening of congestion in the lungs through use of prescription inhalers.
If you have real difficulty in breathing, then the use of oxygen from a mask or tubes that fit inside your nose can really help with asbestosis symptoms.
There are also asbestosis treatments available that can prevent the disease from getting any worse, such as quitting smoking and avoiding further asbestos exposure.
In cases where a patient’s condition is severe, then getting a lung transplant may be an option.
Asbestosis can lead to other types of lung cancer, particularly if you are a smoker.
One of the most severe lung cancers that asbestosis can lead to is malignant mesothelioma.
Another serious and common condition that asbestosis can lead to is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Some patients will have more severe asbestosis symptoms than others.
The severity of the disease will depend on how long you were exposed to asbestos fibers and how much of them you actually inhaled.
Once an individual’s exposure to asbestos ends, the disease progresses more slowly over a long period of time.
It’s possible for some people to survive for many years and not develop any asbestosis symptoms at all, despite them actually having the disease.
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