Asbestos symptoms may appear years or even decades beyond the time of exposure depending on the complication that may develop. The condition asbestosis can develop as a result of inhaling asbestos dust and fibers which cause inflammation and scarring in the lung.
Asbestos is a mineral that was used extensively for many purposes throughout the past millennium due to its flame retardant properties. However, asbestos fibers, when inhaled into the lungs, settle deep within the lungs and cause inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can progress and lead to lung tissue scarring, plaque formation on the membranes covering the lungs, loss of function, and potentially cancer. These conditions are more common in people occupationally exposed to asbestos in their line of work.
- shortness of breath
- difficulty breathing
- chest pain
Diagnosis of asbestosis is typically through physical examination, chest x-ray, or CT scan. Measures can be taken to investigate for traces of cancer masses or cancerous cells.
Treatment is typically aimed at relieving symptoms. Oxygen therapy and fluid buildup drainage help ease breathing. Lung transplant is an option for cases with advanced damage to the lungs.
Prevention is improved with measures to minimize exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Stopping cigarette smoking decreases the risk of developing lung cancer in individuals exposed to asbestos.