What Is Asbestosis?

Many people toiled in professions that caused them to gain exposure to a plethora of inflammatory toxic substances. One such chemical was asbestos. Chronic exposure to asbestos has precipitated certain serious health problems including a condition known as asbestosis.

Asbestos is a mineral used in industries such as construction and manufacturing due to its durability and capacity to withstand heat and prevent the spread of fire. Unfortunately, however, the substance is quite caustic.

Abestosis Overview
Abestosis is a serious lung disorder that occurs when large amounts of asbestos are inhaled and accumulate inside the lungs of afflicted persons. The disease may prevented by covering one’s mouth and nose while working in industries or locations where asbestos is prevalent. However, many of those who contracted asbestosis were employed in industries in yesteryears when little was known about the dangers of chronic exposure to the substance.

Causes/Risk Factors
The condition is caused by continual or excessive inhalation of asbestos fibers. The substance is most commonly found in or on products like roofing materials, home insulation, pipe wrapping materials, plaster, cement, clutch pads and brake linings used in automobiles, vinyl flooring and a host of heat-resistant fabrics. Individuals who worked with these products or was repeatedly exposed to said items stand at significant risk of developing asbestosis.

Physical Manifestations
Asbestos causes significant scarring of lung tissue. The severity of said damage will depend upon several factors including the length of time the stricken individual was exposed to asbestos, as well as how prevalent a concentration of asbestos fibers were inhaled during that timeframe.

The specific physical manifestations am afflicted person experiences can vary from case to case. However, the disease produces certain common symptoms such as chest tightness, breathing difficulties, wheezing, persistent coughing, appetite loss, decreased body weight, clubbing of the fingers and toes and difficulties engaging in physical exertion.

If not treated early, asbestosis can progress and more severe lung scarring can ensue. Said event could precipitate a far greater severity of associated symptoms. Moreover, the condition can place stricken persons at greater risk of developing other lung problems, cardiovascular issues and potentially cancer.

Since asbestosis mimics other lung disorders, diagnosis can be a somewhat complicated and time-consuming process. Individuals who worked in asbestos-heavy industries or was exposed to products containing the substance for prolonged durations who show symptoms of the illness should consult with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

A swift diagnosis is the key to identifying the most appropriate treatment options. Therefore, individuals should be ready to disclose to said medical professional important information such as the type of job they had, when their symptoms began, have these manifestations worsened over time, if they have a history of lung ailments or cigarette smoking, in addition to their current and past medical records.

Once a medical professional is privy to this information, said individual will likely perform a thorough physical examination to rule out the presence of other conditions. Should asbestosis be suspected, the physician in question will likely order diagnostic tests such as chest X-Rays, Computerized Tomography (CT) scans of inside the chest region and lung function tests in which the patient’s lung strength is measured.

In certain instances, a lung biopsy (where a small portion of lung tissue is excised from the patient and examined under a microscope for the presence of asbestos fibers). However, in many cases, biopsies are not needed to render diagnosis.

Potential treatment Options
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for asbestosis. Furthermore, no specific medication or treatment can reverse lung damage that has been incurred at the time of diagnosis. That said, therapeutic protocols are available that can lessen the progression for which the disease advances.

A physician will deem the most appropriate remedial endeavor depending upon the stage of the ailment, the speed with which said condition is advancing, as well as the patient’s overall health. Commonly employed treatments include the administration of flu and pneumonia vaccinations designed to prevent potential development of respiratory infections that can exacerbate asbestosis, the usage of oxygen masks and tanks and pulmonary rehabilitation, which are exercised programs tailored to help patients utilize oxygen more efficiently.

Additionally, diagnosed individuals can employ certain health-boosting measures of their own. Arguably, the most significant action stricken persons can take is to stop smoking (in patients that do). Cessation of smoking has been known to immediately improve lung function. Other home-based remedies asbestosis patients might employ is maintaining a healthy immune system through the consumption of a balanced, nutritious diet and by obtaining sufficient sleep each evening.

Robert SteinbergWhat Is Asbestosis?