Asbestosis is a breathing disorder that decreases total lung capacity. It also causes lung tissue scarring. The disease results from intense or prolonged asbestos exposure, in which the lungs cannot expel inhaled asbestos fibers.
How do Asbestos Fibers Cause Asbestosis?
When you inhale asbestos dust, the fibers enter your lungs, where they become lodged in tiny sacs known as alveoli. The alveoli are responsible for exchanging oxygen with the carbon dioxide in your blood. When they are irritated by asbestos fibers, lung tissue develops scars, which hamper the oxygen delivery process.
Symptoms of Asbestosis
The prime asbestosis symptom is shortness of breath. At first, it will manifest after exertion. As time goes on, it will affect the patient during rest.
Additional asbestosis symptoms include coughing, chest pain, swelling in the face or neck, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, weight loss, and even a finger deformity called clubbing. This condition causes the fingertips to become rounder and spread out.
Symptoms of asbestosis do not typically appear until two or three decades after the initial asbestos exposure. At that point, the condition is more difficult to treat. So if you have been exposed to asbestos and experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor now.
Because these symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory diseases, it is difficult to immediately diagnose the condition. To diagnose asbestosis, a body-imaging test such as a chest x-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan is usually used. A lung function test can also be useful.
Treating Asbestosis Symptoms
While a cure for asbestosis has yet to be found, a number of treatments are available to help relieve symptoms. A physician can recommend medications for coughing and pain. Inhalers, antibiotics, and oxygen may also relieve symptoms.
For long-term asbestosis treatment, doctors prescribe a rehabilitation plan for the lungs. With this approach, patients are taught exercise techniques, breathing methods, and stress management techniques that can combat symptoms. Quitting smoking will also help in the long term. Cigarettes can speed up the disease's progression and are thought to increase the number of asbestos fibers the lungs retain. If necessary, a doctor may even recommend a complete lung transplant. However, this surgery is usually reserved for only the most advanced cases.
If you have been affected by asbestosis, then please contact us today. We can help you find treatment and access to additional helpful information.