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Asbestosis Caused By Exposure to Asbestos

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What Is Asbestosis?

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that occurs after inhaling a large amount of asbestos fibers. These fibers cause lung tissue scarring as they become lodged in the tissue, as well as shortness of breath. This scarring and inflammation of lung tissues is called fibrosis. Although there is no cure for this disease, victims can keep their symptoms under control by taking certain steps to improve the quality of their life.


Symptoms of Asbestosis

Those who have been exposed to large amounts of asbestos over a long period of time typically do not show any signs of disease for 10 to 40 years after their initial exposure. However, if you have a history of asbestos exposure and you have lately been experiencing increasing shortness of breath, you should contact your primary care doctor. Other symptoms related to asbestosis include the following:

Diagnosis of Asbestosis

Because the symptoms of asbestosis are very similar to those of many other types of respiratory diseases, a large number of patients fail to visit a specialist in a timely manner. Your primary care doctor will refer you to a specialist in order to receive a correct diagnosis.

During your visit, the doctor will ask you about your breathing (rest and during exercise), jobs, smoking history, treatments before the symptoms appeared, your symptoms and when they started, whether you wore protective equipment at work or not, what you were in contact with at work and any old medical records, especially chest X-rays and CT scans.

Next, your doctor will continue with a physical examination in which he/she will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to determine if the sounds are normal or not. You may also have to take a few pulmonary function tests to determine how well your lungs are functioning.

Imaging tests such as chest X-rays and CT scans will help the doctor pinpoint the problem. On an X-ray, advanced asbestosis is easy to identify, as it appears excessively white in your lung tissue. Sometimes, the tissue in both lungs may be affected when the asbestosis is advanced, giving your lungs a honeycomb appearance. CT scans allow for greater detail and can help your doctor detect asbestosis in its early stages before it shows up on an X-ray.

Procedures & Treatment for Asbestosis Caused By Asbestos Exposure

As previously mentioned, there is no treatment to reverse the effects of asbestosis on your lungs and overall health. In the event of severe symptoms, which cannot be alleviated with therapy, you may be a candidate for a lung transplant. Generally, treatment focuses on slowing the progression of your disease and alleviating your symptoms. You may be prescribed supplemental oxygen if breathing becomes highly difficult. Also, if you are a smoker, your doctor will ask you to stop smoking and may prescribe you medication to help you quit. Pulmonary rehabilitation will also help you if you suffer from any chronic lung condition.

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