Asbestosis: A Little Known Impact of Asbestos Exposure
Many people who hear about asbestos automatically think about the risk of mesothelioma, but that isn’t the only disease that can occur as the result of asbestos exposure. One of these is asbestosis. While this isn’t as serious as mesothelioma, it is still a very serious disease.
Asbestosis occurs as a result of the scarring of the lungs that are due to the inhalation of asbestos fibers. These fibers irritate the lungs, including the alveoli. These are tiny sacs that exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide within the blood. The irritation leads to scarring, which causes the lungs to become stiff. This makes it difficult to breathe normally.
What are the Symptoms of and Treatments for Asbestosis?
The symptoms of asbestosis might not appear for 10 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. The average time it takes to appear is 20 years. The common symptoms of this disease include:
- Nail deformities
- Enlarged fingertips or clubbed fingers
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Dry cough that’s persistent
Individuals who have any of these symptoms and who have a known asbestos exposure history should contact their doctor right away for an evaluation. Pulmonary function testing, x-rays, and blood tests might be done to determine the diagnosis.
There isn’t a cure for asbestosis, so the focus is placed on treating the condition and keeping the patient comfortable. Some of the medications that are used include those that will help to loosen lung congestion. Many patients will need to have supplemental oxygen. In more severe cases, a lung transplant might be explored.
What is Challenging Regarding Asbestosis?
One of the biggest challenges that people who have asbestosis face is that the disease might not develop for many years, sometimes even decades, after the exposure. This can result in the condition becoming more severe since the patient doesn’t know that they have asbestosis.
It’s fully possible that a person who has asbestosis may still develop mesothelioma or lung cancer eventually. Smoking increases the chance of this occurring. There’s also a chance that a person will develop fluid around the lungs, which is known as a pleural effusion.
Anyone who’s been exposed to asbestos should learn what they can about the conditions that might occur as a result. Finding reliable and up to date asbestos information is imperative. Individuals who suffer harm as a result of asbestos exposure have legal options that they can explore that might help to relieve some of the financial pressure that comes with these health conditions.