Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

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Asbestosis is a benign but potentially life-threatening asbestos-related disease. Asbestosis is a breathing disorder caused by long-term inhalation of asbestos fibers. This exposure causes scarring of the lung tissue, which can make breathing difficult by decreasing lung function. Fortunately, once asbestos exposure stops, the fibrosis, or tissue damage, stops progressing. However, asbestosis robs many people of their health and lives.

Asbestosis Symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath, which usually begins only with exertion but, eventually, happens even when resting.
  • Chest pain
  • Decreased physical activity tolerance
  • Coughing
  • Finger deformity, or clubbing, in some cases.

Asbestosis Diagnosis is often achieved by full medical history, physical evaluation and tests such as:

  • Pulmonary Function Tests
  • Chest X-Rays
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scans

Asbestosis Treatment usually involves reducing further irritation to the lungs (i.e. smoking cessation) and keeping the immune system strong (via flu shots, etc), since no treatment is available to reduce the health effects of asbestos on the lungs. Doctors may recommend drug treatment to help with pulmonary hypertension and blood clot prevention.

Asbestosis Prognosis depends on the extent and duration of asbestos exposure, in addition to numerous individual health factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, asbestosis can lead to:

  • High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • Heart problems
  • Lung Cancer (especially in smokers)
  • Other lung damage
  • Mesothelioma Cancer

While asbestosis is not always a death sentence, it can take the lives of people who develop these or other complications related to this asbestos disease.