Asbestosis: What You Need to Know

September 19, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Asbestosis is a lung ailment that could develop into a deadly type of lung cancer, like mesothelioma. It takes many years for exposure to asbestos to trigger mesothelioma, which has no known cure.

Asbestos was once widely used in the construction industry and many other fields. It is a very effective flame retardant and often was used in wall and ceiling insulation, ceiling tiles, and materials used to coat and texture walls.

Current uses are much more limited but include common items, like the brake pads on your vehicle or some types of tile used for flooring. It also might cover your hot water pipes and keep your hot water heater insulated during the winter.

What Is Asbestosis?

Asbestosis is the initial onset of lung irritation that could become a lung disease due to extended exposure to asbestos. Asbestos produces microscopic fibers that are very easy for anyone to breathe. Once inside your lungs, the microscopic particles embed themselves in the lining of your lungs.

Asbestos Breath Chest Pain Testes Ascites Stock Vector (Royalty Free) 1918070174 | Shutterstock

You might feel fine for many months or even years after your last exposure to asbestos before symptoms of asbestosis occur. Eventually, the embedded asbestos fibers will cause scarring and a tightening of your lungs. You could develop pockets of fluid that put pressure on your lungs as the lining becomes relatively stiff and brittle.

You might notice a loss of breath and become fatigued more, along with a tightening of your chest. The asbestosis often will cause chest pains that might be the precursor to the onset of mesothelioma or another lung disease.

Many Workers Risk Suffering From Asbestosis

Virtually all states and the federal government have banned the widespread use of asbestos in construction materials. Unless you live in a very old home or work in a very old building, odds are it does not contain asbestos in the primary construction materials.

Still, some people are more prone to coming into contact with asbestos and breathing in its harmful microscopic fibers. The most exposure-prone occupations include:

  • Plumbers
  • Demolition crews
  • Electricians
  • Construction crews
  • HVAC engineers

It is very important for workers to wear hazmat suits and use OSHA-recommended ventilators to prevent exposure to asbestos and its microscopic fibers. Prevention is the best way to protect workers against potentially deadly asbestos exposure.

How To Treat Asbestosis

Asbestosis might take two or three decades – or more – to fully manifest itself. The disease is a very slow but continual process that might make you think another health issue is causing your symptoms.

The lag between exposure and the onset of any related illness makes it nearly impossible to cure asbestosis. Some therapies have shown promise in delaying the worst effects, like oxygen therapy which helps to restore your body’s oxygen levels when you feel fatigued or experience breathing difficulties.

You also might undergo pulmonary rehabilitation that helps to improve your breathing efficiency and oxygen intake. An inhaler also might help improve your breathing when you experience symptoms while going about your business.

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