Asbestosis is the scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos fibers that have been inhaled. Asbestos fibers are easy to inhale and extremely toxic. Over time, inhalation of asbestos fibers causes the lungs to become severely and irreversibly scarred, at which point asbestosis sets in.
As with other asbestos-related conditions such as mesothelioma, it’s important that anyone diagnosed with asbestosis gets immediate treatment to prevent further health complications. Because asbestosis is a chronic condition, it typically requires lifelong treatment.
In most patients, asbestosis symptoms take between 10 and 30 years after the initial asbestos exposure to present themselves. When apparent, the symptoms of asbestosis typically include:
Because all these symptoms are non-specific, it is common for cases of asbestosis to
be misdiagnosed as other respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
When medical professionals suspect that patients suffer from asbestosis, they typically start their diagnosis by obtaining the patient’s full medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure.
Diagnostic tests used in determining whether asbestosis is present include:
- Imaging tests – which may include CT scans, MRIs and/or x-rays. Through these tests, physicians can find out if and where the lungs are scarred. Similarly, imaging tests can help indicate the extent of lung scarring and,
therefore, the severity of the asbestosis.
- Lung function tests (aka Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT)) which can include breathing exercises and measurements of patients’ lung capacity. With lung function tests, doctors can more fully determine the severity of lung scarring and the progression of asbestosis.
Since asbestosis is incurable, all immediate and long-term treatments for it are aimed at reducing symptoms, helping
patients breath better and preventing the condition from progressing. In most cases, asbestosis treatments usually
- Immunizations to keep the immune system healthy
- Lifestyle alterations such as exercising regularly and quitting smoking, to help the lungs be as healthy as possible
- Medication to ease pain, promote lung functioning, etc.
Individuals who have developed asbestosis may be entitled to compensation from parties responsible for the asbestos exposure. Contact the Asbestos Legal Center today if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestosis. Please click here for a complimentary information packet.