Asbestosis is a lung disease that occurs from breathing in asbestos fibers.
Pulmonary fibrosis – from asbestos exposure; Interstitial pneumonitis – from asbestos exposure
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause scar tissue (fibrosis) to form inside the lung. Scarred lung tissue does not expand and contract normally.
How severe the disease is depends on how long the person was exposed to asbestos and the amount he or she breathed in. Often, people do not notice symptoms for 20 years or more after the asbestos exposure.
Asbestos fibers were commonly used in construction before 1975. Asbestos exposure occurred in asbestos mining and milling, construction, fireproofing, and other industries. Families of asbestos workers can also be exposed from particles brought home on the worker’s clothing.
Other asbestos-related diseases include:
Pleural plaques (calcification)
Malignant mesothelioma— can develop 20-40 years after exposure
Pleural effusion— a collection that develops around the lung a few years after asbestos exposure
Workers today are less likely to get asbestos-related diseases because of government regulations.
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of getting asbestos-related diseases.
Chest pain Cough Shortness of breathwith exertion (slowly gets worse over time)
- Tightness in the chest
Possible other symptoms include:
Signs and tests
When listening to the chest with a stethoscope (
These tests may help diagnose the disease:
Chest x-ray CT scan of the lungs
- Gallium lung scan
Pulmonary function tests
There is no cure. Stopping exposure to asbestos is essential. To ease symptoms, drainage, chest
The doctor may prescribe aerosol medications to thin lung fluids. People with this condition may need to receive oxygen by mask or by a plastic piece that fits into the nostrils. Certain patients may need a lung transplant.
You can ease the stress of this illness by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems. See
The outcome depends on the amount of asbestos you were exposed to, and for how long. This condition tends to get worse more slowly than idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis if you stop being exposed to asbestos.
Patients who develop malignant mesothelioma tend t ohave a poor outcome. About 75% of those who are affected die within 1 year.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD)
- Lung cancer
- Malignant mesothelioma
- Pleural effusion
- Pleural plaques
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you suspect that you’ve been exposed to asbestos or if you have unexplained symptoms.
In people who have been exposed to asbestos for more than 10 years, screening with a chest x-ray every 3 to 5 years may detect asbestos-related diseases early. Stopping cigarette smoking can dramatically reduce the risk of asbestos-related lung cancer.
Related:Interstitial lung disease – adults – discharge, Respiratory, Mesothelioma – malignant, Pleural effusion