Asbestosis is a lung disease which over time causes difficulty and pain in breathing. This is because the asbestos fibers embedded in the lungs hinder the breathing process. Asbestosis is an irreversible condition and there is no known cure for it. However, available asbestosis treatment slows down the asbestosis progress and assists in longer life. All asbestosis treatment is designed to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life. Some symptoms of asbestosis include, pain, swelling (inflammation) and difficulty breathing.
Asbestosis treatment options available are:
- Alternative treatments
Medication may be prescribed to help with breathing and discomfort caused by asbestosis.
Common medications are:
- Bronchodilators (inhalers) these relax the airway muscles and provide relief
- Medication to thin secretions the medication thins the secretion in the lungs and makes it easier for the patient to cough
- Pain medication these reduce pain and swelling caused by asbestosis, for example, chest pain. Aspirin may be prescribed to relieve pain, while something stronger may be prescribed where necessary.
- Antibiotics these are prescribed if surgery is performed. The antibiotics control pain and reduce the risk of infection.
Supplemental Oxygen may be prescribed to help with breathing and getting air to the lungs. An oxygen tank transfers oxygen directly to the nostrils through plastic tubing.
There are three types of surgery options performed by doctors:
- Thoracentesis this surgery drains the fluid from the lungs. This releases pressure in the lungs and makes it easier for the patient to breathe
- Diagnostic surgery this surgery is a biopsy to diagnose if a patient may have mesothelioma or a lung tumor. This surgery is performed where X-rays and/or CT scans show the presence of lesions or nodules in the lungs.
- Lung transplant this surgery is the removal of one or both lungs and replacing them with lungs from a donor. This is a last resort option for the patient. This option is only used where asbestosis is coupled by severe lung disease; for example, lung cancer or emphysema. Because the lung transplant surgery is such a long process it makes it unsuitable for many asbestosis patients. For a patient to have lung transplant surgery as an option, extensive screening and testing must be conducted to determine the success chances of the surgery.
Alternative treatments are not cures to asbestosis but promote relief to symptoms such as pain and swelling, and increase lung functions. Examples of alternative treatments are:
- Massage therapy
- Herbal medications
- Homeopathic medications