Asbestosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies, Prevention
Asbestosis- This is a pathological condition of the lungs which develops as a result of frequent inhalation of asbestos fibers over a long period of time, usually in the occupational environment. This was more prevalent in the 1970s when asbestos was used in a widespread way in construction and other industries until tougher laws were implemented so as not to use asbestos and prevent this disease. This condition causes scarring of the lung tissues and results in shortness of breath.
What Is Asbestosis?
Asbestosis as stated is a chronic disorder of the lungs which results from continuous inhalation of asbestos fibers over a prolonged period of time. This prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers causes scarring of the lung tissues resulting in shortness of breath. The symptoms of Asbestosis range between mild to severe and are not observed until significant amount of time has elapsed post exposure. Asbestos is a mineral which was extensively used until 1970s for purposes of insulation and used in cement and floor tiles until the government implemented laws regulating the use of asbestos and its products
Causes Of Asbestosis
If an individual is exposed to extremely high levels of asbestos dust over a prolonged period of time certain airborne fibers of asbestos infiltrate and get lodged within the lungs thus irritating and scarring the lung tissues resulting in the lungs to become stiff and causing shortness of breath.
As this disease progresses, the number of lung tissues becoming scarred increase and ultimately the lung tissues become extremely stiff and are not able to expand and contract in a normal fashion. Smoking cigarettes magnifies this condition resulting in rapid progression of the disease.
Who All Are At Risk For Developing Asbestosis?
People Who Are At Risk For Developing Asbestosis Are:
- Asbestos miners
- Aircraft mechanics
- Construction workers
- Workers who remove asbestos insulations in older buildings
- People working in the shipyards
- Boiler operators
- Railroad workers
Symptoms Of Asbestosis
Usually the symptoms of Asbestosis are not observed until approximately 30-40 years postexposure. Some of the Asbestosis symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent dry cough
- Appetite loss with unintended weight loss
- Clubbing of the extremities
- Chest pain
Diagnosis of Asbestosis
Asbestosis is a difficult disease to diagnose since the signs and symptoms of the disease are extremely similar to various other diseases of the lungs and the respiratory system. Nevertheless, there are different diagnostic studies which go a long way in pinpointing the diagnosis of Asbestosis.
- Chest X-ray: In cases of advanced disease, there will be excessive whiteness in lung tissues. In severe conditions, the lungs may have a honeycomb appearance to it.
- CT Scan: This is also very beneficial to look at the extent of damage to the lung tissue due to Asbestosis.
- Pulmonary Function Test: This determines the functioning of the lungs. This tests tells how much of air can the lungs accommodate and the amount of air going in and out of the lungs
Treatment For Asbestosis
As of now, there is no clear cut treatment which can reverse the affects of Asbestosis; hence, treatment basically focuses on slowing down the progression of the disease and alleviating symptoms. A diligent followup is required for this with regular X-rays and pulmonary function tests. Some treatments for Asbestosis are:
- Therapy: To facilitate easier breathing, supplemental oxygen may be beneficial, either through masks or breathing tubes. These breathing tubes are then connected to a ventilator which supports breathing until the individual is able to breathe on his own.
- Surgery: In cases of Advanced Asbestosis where the lung tissues are scarred to a significant degree then a lung transplant may be suggested.
Home Remedies For Asbestosis
- Smoking Cessation: Asbestosis as it is puts an individual at risk for lung cancer and if that individual is a smoker then that risk gets magnified, hence smoking cessation is imperative not only for improvement of symptoms but also slowing down progression of disease.
- Proper Vaccinations: Individuals need to be aware about the vaccinations for medical conditions like flu and pneumonia etc... and need to consult with their physicians regarding it. Any respiratory infection needs to be treated in a prompt manner for individuals with risk for Asbestosis.
Prevention of Asbestosis
The best way Asbestosis can be prevented is by limiting exposure to asbestos. The United States government has made laws requiring industries involved with asbestos utilization to provide adequate safety measures to their employees.