Asbestosis is one of the diseases that results from asbestos exposure. The first ever documented case of asbestosis was in 1924. Asbestosis is not a cancer but it can increase the chances of developing lung cancer or mesothelioma. Between 1968 and 2005, research shows that asbestosis has claimed the lives of more than 9000 people in the United States alone.
This critical condition mainly occurs when a person inhales airborne, loose asbestos fibers. These fibers become airborne as a result of disturbance to asbestos materials. Exposure can be by way of primary, secondary, environmental and natural exposure. Asbestosis is a result of long-term or prolonged asbestos exposure.
Causes of asbestosis
Because of their microscopic size once airborne, the fibers move freely in the atmosphere. When a person inhales these fibers, they enter the lungs of the individual. Over time if the fibers are not expelled from the lungs they lodge themselves into the lung tissue. Once the fibers are lodged in the tissue scarring occurs on air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The scarring makes it difficult for a person to breathe as it prevents the lung tissueÂ from expanding and contracting normally.Â Such expansion and contraction of the tissueÂ is required to supply oxygen to the blood stream. Decreased lung capacity is the main effect caused by asbestosis.
Common symptoms of asbestosis
Asbestosis takes a long time to be detected after the initial exposure period. The symptoms thus take a very long time to develop. Studies show that it takes between 10-20 years for the symptoms to appear. As scarring and inflammation take place, this leads to symptoms of shortness of breath, tightness of the chest, coughing and chest pains.
Like the many conditions associated with asbestos exposure, asbestosis has no known cure yet. Available treatment only relieves the pain and reduces bi-products associated with respiratory symptoms. One such treatment is oxygen therapyÂ which relieves shortness of breath.