Asbestosis is a long-term (chronic) lung disease that can get worse over time. It is caused by breathing tiny asbestos fibres into the lungs. The fibres scar the inside of the lungs, which makes it hard to breathe.
Many years may pass between the time you are exposed to the fibres and when you feel the effects of the disease. The amount of time can depend on how long the exposure was and how many fibres you breathed in.
Smoking makes the disease get worse faster and increases the chances of it leading to lung cancer.
Asbestos is a material that was commonly used for insulating and soundproofing older homes and buildings. It was also used as a material in manufacturing. Many people have been exposed to asbestos while working in mining, construction, and the military, and by removing asbestos from old buildings.
Asbestos can crumble and send fine fibres into the air. When you breathe in the fibres, they can irritate your lungs. Over time, your lungs get scarred, which makes the lungs less flexible for breathing.
Symptoms may include:
Tests to diagnose asbestosis include:
Asbestosis can't be cured, but it can be treated. The treatment is to help you feel better and keep the disease from getting worse.
Your doctor may:
You can take these steps to help yourself:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & R. Steven Tharratt, MD, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine
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