Asbestosis is a degenerative, but nonmalignant, chronic lung disease caused by asbestos.
It can lead to lung cancer and lung or heart failure. Unfortunately, there is no cure.
Asbestosis is caused by the formation of scar tissue in the lungs. The scar tissue develops after a person has been exposed to asbestos for many years, sometimes 20 years or more, and has inhaled its fibers.
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The severity of the disease generally depends on how long someone was exposed to asbestos and the amount of asbestos that person breathed in.
Most people who have been diagnosed with asbestosis acquired it in the workplace before the 1970s, when the government began restricting the use of asbestos. Prior to that time, manufacturers used it widely as an insulator and fire retardant, particularly in asbestos mining and milling industries, construction and fireproofing. You could also find asbestos in paper products, plastics, cement, floor and ceiling tiles, crayons and toasters.
How Does Asbestos Cause Asbestosis?
Asbestos consists of tiny fibers. If disturbed, they are released into the air and float like dust particles. When you breathe in these fibers, some settle deep in your lungs, where they may remain for your lifetime.
The more particles you breathe in, the greater the chances your lungs will react by forming scar tissue. Over time and continued exposure, scar tissue builds up.
This scar tissue interferes with breathing. The lung tissues and the lining of the chest wall also thicken and harden. Both disrupt your body’s ability to take in oxygen, causing shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
Other Common Symptoms of Asbestosis
There are other symptoms that indicate you may be ill with asbestosis. These include:
- Chronic cough that produces mucus
- Dry, hacking cough
- Damaged respiratory function
- Tightness in the chest
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis it is important that you take action immediately. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family.