What is Asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a lung disease that develops when asbestos fibers (carcinogenic substances, also known as white soil, barren soil, celestial soil, delph, scourge, or ceren soil) cause scarring in your lungs. The scar restricts your breathing and interferes with the ability of your oxygen to enter the bloodstream. Other names for this disease are pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial pneumonia. This disease takes years to develop and can be life-threatening.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Asbestosis
In most cases, symptoms do not appear approximately 20 years after exposure to asbestos (range 10 to 40 years).
Common Symptoms of Asbestosis
- Shortness of breath
- Continuous dry cough
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Finger strapping (enlargement of fingertips)
Causes And Risk Factors Related With Asbestosis
If you inhale asbestos fibers, they are embedded in your lungs and can cause scar tissue to form. This scar is known as asbestosis. The scar may make it difficult for you to breathe because it prevents the normal expansion and contraction of the lung tissue.
Asbestos has been widely recognized in construction and fire fighting. Asbestos is still used in some industries but is closely monitored by the governments through Safety and Health Management.
If you smoke, you are also likely to develop the asbestosis and other related diseases.
Testing And Diagnosing Asbestosis
Your doctor will perform various tests to find out if you are asbestos and to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
First, your doctor will normally use a stethoscope to listen for abnormal breath sounds as part of a physical exam. Your doctor may require an X-ray to obtain a white or honeycomb-like appearance on your lungs or chest. Pulmonary function tests can be performed to measure the amount of breathing air and air flow to your lungs and air flow from your lungs.
Your doctor may also test how much oxygen is transferred from your lungs to the bloodstream. CT scans can be used to examine your lungs in more detail. Your doctor may order a biopsy to search for asbestos fibers in a sample of lung tissue.
Treatment Options For Asbestosis
Asbestosis is incurable today. However, there are several treatments that can help to control or reduce symptoms. Prescription inhalers (device for inhalation medication) can remove the occlusion of the lungs.
Asbestosis treatments also include preventing worsening of the disease. You can do this by avoiding asbestos exposure and quit smoking.
If your condition is severe, a lung transplant may be an option.
Long Term Complications of Asbestos
Asbestosis malignant mesothelioma (a disease that begins with the accumulation of water in the chest cavity before the lung membrane) can cause a severe form of lung cancer. Other types of lung cancer may develop if you smoke. The main symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing, and sputum production An accumulation of fluid around the lungs known as pleural effusion is also associated with asbestosis.
Factors affecting the severity of the disease include how much you have been exposed to asbestos and how much is inhaled. The situation progresses more slowly when exposure to asbestos stops. People with disease but no complications can survive for decades.
What To Do If You Are Exposed Asbestos?
If you are dealing with asbestos exposure for more than a decade you should visit your doctor for chest x-rays and screening every 3-5 years. If you are exposed to asbestos on a regular basis in your workplace, make sure that you use every safety equipment in the workplace and follow all safety procedures.
Employers should monitor workplace exposure levels and permit work involving asbestos only in the specified areas. Federal law also requires the presence of areas of decontamination (disinfection, decontamination, chemical cleaning, sterilization, cleaning and / or antisepsis removal of pathogenic microorganisms from objects and living tissues) in the workplace. Employee training sessions are also required. Routine medical examination that may lead to early detection of asbestosis is covered by federal law.
If you think your employer does not meet these standards, you should contact your nearest Safety and Health Management office. They can check your workplace and provide more information about health issues. They also monitor emergency situations and workplace accidents.