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Asbestosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Sep 21, 2023

Asbestosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Asbestosis is a lung condition that affects people who inhale asbestos dust and fibres over an extended period of time. It is an asbestos-containing substance that creates minimal durable fibres.

Inhaling asbestos fibres and dust can cause fibrosis, a condition where the lungs become thick and scarred. Additionally, asbestos exposure can cause the pleura, the membranes that cover your lungs, to enlarge. The scarring and thickness of the lung tissue may make breathing challenging.

Sometimes, asbestosis can result in potentially fatal side effects like heart failure and lung cancer. When it gets bad, asbestosis can be fatal.

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Causes Of Asbestosis

Inhaling asbestos fibres or dust over an extended period of time is the main cause of asbestosis. This causes your pleura, which is a very thin tissue or membrane that lines your lungs, to thicken and scar.

Breathing in asbestos dust causes asbestosis. Unaltered asbestos, such as that found in insulation or tile, doesn't raise your risk of contracting the disease.

In the past, asbestos was often used in the industrial and construction sectors. Some people who worked in these industries developed asbestosis as a result of being exposed to asbestos fibres on a daily basis.

The following products and materials could include asbestos:

  • Automobile clutch pads and brake linings.
  • For construction, use cement, putties, and plaster.
  • Insulation.
  • Pipe encasing.
  • Siding and roof shingles.
  • Vinyl floor tiles.

Symptoms Of Asbestosis

The severity of the disease affects how severe the symptoms of asbestosis are. After asbestos exposure, symptoms may take 20 to 30 years or longer to manifest.

  • Being short of breath, especially when working hard or exercising, is the first sign of asbestosis that you might experience. In addition, warning signs and symptoms include:
  • Tension and pain in the chest.
  • Having clubbed fingernails and toenails (large, rounded nails).
  • Cough.
  • Breathing in makes a crackling sound.
  • Extreme exhaustion and difficulty exercising.
  • Weight loss with no effort.

Risk Factors Of Asbestosis

Long-term asbestos exposure increases your risk of developing asbestosis. This is valid if your work requires you to handle asbestos-containing materials. These jobs include:

  • Asbestos miners, installers, or removers.
  • Mechanics for vehicles and aircraft.
  • Construction workers.
  • Workers in the electrical industry.
  • Railway and shipyard workers.
  • If you live with someone who returns from one of these professions with dust or fibres on their clothing, you could still be at risk even if you don't deal with asbestos. If you are close to an asbestos mine or a construction site, you may also be in danger of breathing in particles.

Diagnosis Of Asbestosis

You will be examined by a doctor who will also ask you about your medical history. Don't forget to let them know if you've been exposed to any hazardous substances like asbestos.

Your doctor might suggest more testing to complete the diagnosis. These might include:

  • A chest X-ray.
  • A computed tomography, or CT scan.
  • Lung function evaluations, such as spirometry.

Treatment Of Asbestosis

The goal of treating asbestosis is to control symptoms while maintaining lung function. The severity of the condition determines how you will be treated. You may have the following options to choose from:

  • Oxygen therapy: You can breathe more easily by receiving additional oxygen through a mask or tube in your nose.
  • Exercise and behavioural modifications might enhance your daily functioning during pulmonary rehabilitation.
  • Lung transplant surgery: In a small percentage of instances, a new, healthy lung from a lung transplant can ease symptoms and lengthen life.

Prevention Of Asbestosis

By avoiding prolonged asbestos exposure, you can lower your risk of developing asbestosis. Wear a respirator (a mask that filters airborne particles) if your employment requires exposure to the mineral. You can avoid breathing in asbestos dust or fibres by using this protective mask.

If you are aware that you have been exposed to asbestos, you should get frequent checkups and chest X-rays. These tests can help in the early detection of asbestosis even though they cannot cure it.

The best method to lower your risk of developing cancer if you've been exposed to asbestos and smoke is to stop doing so.

Complication Of Asbestosis

Common signs of asbestosis include a chronic cough and breathing problems. Complications may even be fatal in more extreme circumstances.

Asbestosis complications include the following:

  • Lung cancer is a type of cancer that appears inside the lungs. Smokers who have asbestosis are more likely to develop lung cancer.
  • Cancer that develops in the lining of your chest, abdomen, or lungs is called malignant mesothelioma.
  • A respiratory failure results in a buildup of carbon dioxide in your tissues because your lungs are unable to deliver enough oxygen to your blood.
  • Cor pulmonale, or right-sided heart failure, is when your heart's right side quits functioning normally.

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