Asbestosis is a breathing disorder that is developed from inhaling asbestos fibers. After several years, the inhalation of these fibers can lead to scarring in the lungs and shortness of breath, among other symptoms. For many years, asbestos fibers were used in flooring materials and insulation. As a result, many people working in the construction industry contracted asbestosis after coming into contact with the asbestos fibers. Beginning in the 1970s, however, the government began to regulate the use of asbestos so fewer people would contract the disease. Today, the use of asbestos is highly regulated by the government to limit exposure to the substance.
Symptoms of Asbestosis
For those exposed to asbestos, the symptoms may not become evident for at least 10 to 20 years. However, symptoms do increase gradually over time, and include shortness of breath, lack of desire to exercise, clubbing of fingers, coughing and chest pain. If you experience any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, see a doctor immediately. There are several treatment options that help reduce the severity of these symptoms.
Exposure to Asbestos
While asbestos occurs naturally in the environment, very little exposure to asbestos will not cause serious harm to the lungs. Those who are most likely to become sick from the substance are those who have prolonged exposure to asbestos – such as construction workers, miners, or those who spend a lot of time in buildings that still contain asbestos. Although the government regulates the use of asbestos in construction, there are still a few buildings that remain from the era when asbestos was commonly utilized in construction. Many of these buildings are older, pre-1970s, and have not had asbestos removed from the site since. Removing asbestos from a building can often be very costly, and sometimes companies or individuals do not have the means to have it removed. However, if you do own a home or business that still contains asbestos, seek the help of a professional before having it removed. This will ensure that the asbestos is removed safely and entirely from the premises.
The severity of complications that arise from asbestosis typically correlate with the length of time of exposure to asbestos. The longer the exposure period, the harsher the complications. Sometimes, these complications can be disabling or even fatal, whereas others are hardly noticeable. Smoking increases the risk of contracting cancer in individuals who were exposed to asbestos, since the lungs are already damaged. Other complications include high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) and heart problems related to this. Asbestosis is primarily a disease that attacks the lung tissues, so these are the most at-risk organs in the body after contracting the disease. Symptoms related to asbestosis will generally not increase in severity after patients are removed from exposure.