Asbestosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis caused by asbestos exposure. The disease manifests in the lungs. During exposure, asbestos fibres are inhaled and can become lodged in lung tissue. The sharp, straight shaped fibres are difficult for the body to dislodge and expel. After entering and sitting in the body for a long period of time, the fibres can cause irritation, inflammation and scarring.
Most asbestosis patients develop symptoms within 20 to 30 years of being exposed to asbestos. If someone has been exposed to asbestos for a long time, such as a decade or more, the latency period of symptom development will be shorter. The common symptoms of asbestosis are: swelling in the neck or face, difficulty swallowing, high blood pressure, blood in sputum, crackling sound when breathing, shortness of breath, hyper tension, finger deformity and loss of weight/appetite.
What Causes Symptoms
The symptoms of asbestosis are caused by lung scarring or fibrosis. The lungs become scarred and inflamed over time, as the capacity to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide decreases. This results in decreased lung function and subsequent fatigue in patients.
Shortness of breath occurs due to pleural thickening, the thickening of the lining of lungs, caused by the presence of asbestos fibres or pleural effusion.
The development of asbestos can bring on a range of other conditions. This is due to the fact that the disease prevents lungs from fully oxygenating blood, prompting the heart to work harder. As the heart works harder, blood pressure increases, creating fluid build up around the heart and lungs. This can result in swelling in the neck and face, which can lead to troubles with swallowing.
While there is no cure for asbestos, there are several treatment options recommended by doctors to help relieve symptoms. These include: meditations to help with coughing and pain, use of inhalers, supplemental oxygen and antibiotics, as well as pulmonary rehabilitation, palliative treatment, lung transplant and lifestyle adjustments.
However, the best way to avoid asbestosis altogether is prevention. Asbestos Testing and Management is essential to stopping the development of asbestosis. At Alpha Environmental, we offer asbestos testing to remove asbestos containing materials. To learn more, please call us at 1300 039 181.