Asbestosis is the chronic disorder of human lungs and this disease is caused when the person inhale the asbestos fibre. Workers and people who are exposed to this asbestos fibre for prolonged period are likely to have scarring in lungs along with shortness of breath. The symptoms of Asbestosis usually range from severe to mild and may not occur for several years despite exposure to fibre. Asbestos is the natural construction material which can resist corrosion and heat. It is widely used for insulation. People that are having Asbestosis usually get infected at workplace early to 1970 before the federal government started regulating the use of asbestos and related products. The handling of the product is strictly regulated today and hence getting infected by Asbestosis is unlikely especially if the employer follow the safety procedures. The treatment of Asbestosis aims to alleviate the symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Asbestosis?

The effects of Asbestosis are not obvious up to 10-40 years after initial exposure to asbestos fibre. Some of the common symptoms and signs of Asbestosis include:

  • Chest tightness or severe pain
  • Persistent dry coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite with unintentional weight loss
  • Toes and fingertips appearing wider and rounder than normal

What are the Causes of Asbestosis?

Workers and people who are exposed to the asbestos dust for a prolonged period of time or exposed to airborne fibres which cam lodge within alveoli (the small scar inside the lungs where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide in blood) may have Asbestosis in any time of your lifetime. The asbestos fibre is likely to irritate and cause scarring in the tissues of lungs and this cause the lungs to become stiff, thereby making breathing quite complicated.

As the condition worsen, more and more tissues in lungs become irritated and scarred and gradually the tissues become stiff and harder that can’t even contract or expand as usually, therefore making breathing impossible. Smoking and alcohol consumption enhances the retention of the asbestos fibre in your lungs and also lead to faster progression of Asbestosis.

What Are The Risk Factors of Asbestosis?

Workers who have already worked in mills, mining, installation or removal of asbestos products or in manufacturing units prior to 1970 are most likely to have Asbestosis. Some of examples include:

  • Electricians
  • Aircraft and auto mechanics
  • Asbestos miners
  • Building construction workers
  • Workers removing asbestos insulation around the steam pipes in older buildings
  • Boiler operators
  • Shipyard workers
  • Railroad workers

People who are having Asbestosis are the great risk of developing cancer in lungs, especially if you consume alcohol and have a history of smoking.

Diagnosis of Asbestosis

Asbestosis is the condition which is quite complication to diagnose as the symptoms of the condition is similar to that of other respiratory conditions. Doctors make use of a variety of diagnostic tests which help them to find out the presence of Asbestosis in patients. This test includes:

  • Chest X-Ray – People with advanced grade Asbestosis usually have excessive whiteness in lung tissues and this is shown in chest x-ray. If the entire lung is affected, then in x-ray you will see a honeycomb image in x-ray
  • CT Scans – Doctors may also ask the patients to undergo a CT scan where cross sectional images of bones and soft tissues of body are produced. The scans give a clear and detailed view of the lungs and it becomes easier for finding the presence of Asbestosis in the early stages.

Pulmonary Function Tests are also conducted to see how the lungs are functioning. It measures the amount of air present in lungs and the airflow in and out of the lings.

Treatment for Asbestosis

There is no exact treatment available for Asbestosis. However, the treatments offered are focused towards alleviating the symptoms associated with the disease. Patients are asked for routine check-up care and therapy to ease the breathing difficulty caused by advanced Asbestosis. Supplemental oxygen may also be prescribed by doctors. If some of the symptoms are serious and unmanageable, the candidate may be asked to undergo surgery for lungs transplant. This is a risky surgery and only recommended when the condition is severe.

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