Understanding Asbestosis

bottle of medication

Asbestos exposure is so often linked to the development cancer, particularly mesothelioma. However, it is also the cause of another disease, asbestosis.

How do you get asbestosis?

Asbestosis is typically caused by a long period of exposure to asbestos. When fibers of asbestos are inhaled, they can become stuck in the lung tissue. The fibers are sharp, which means that they are difficult for your body to handle and can irritate the lungs. As they sit in the lungs, they can create inflammation and scarring.

What are the symptoms?

Asbestosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis. Like mesothelioma, it has a long latency period, meaning that symptoms may not develop or show up until 10 or 50 years after exposure to asbestos. If you were exposed to asbestos, here are the symptoms of asbestosis to be aware of:

  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Neck or face swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Crackly breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or spitting up blood
  • Finger deformities, such as clubbed fingers
  • Loss of appetite and weight

What are the treatments?

While there is no cure for asbestosis, there are treatment options available. Depending on the state of the disease, certain options may be open for you to try. Talk with your doctor about your choices, including these treatments:

  • Medication – Pain medication, cough medication, inhalers, oxygen, antibiotics
  • Lifestyle changes – Less physical activity, no smoking, changes to diets
  • Pulmonary rehab – Breathing techniques, exercise routines, stress management
  • Palliative treatment – Non-invasive surgeries to manage symptoms
  • Lung transplant – Typically for patients with severe asbestosis and other conditions

Many signs of asbestosis are like that of mesothelioma and other lung conditions. If you notice any of these symptoms or other issues, always seek medical help first. Talking with your doctor quickly and getting tested means you will have a better chance of getting treatment sooner.