Asbestosis is a lung disease that develops after someone inhales particles of asbestos. When asbestos fibers get into the lungs, they lodge in the soft tissue. This causes tissue to react, forming scarring around the particles, which is called “fibrosis”. Over time, the scars can cause nodules to form, which impede lung function and cause difficulty breathing.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name of a group of naturally-occurring minerals. Many years ago, it was discovered that asbestos fibers are resistant to corrosion and heat. This made them an excellent material for insulation and building. As a result, asbestos has a long history of use in insulation, manufacturing, building materials and shipbuilding.
Though grouped together, asbestos consists of several mineral fibers, which are:
Exposure to any of these mineral fibers places workers at risk for asbestosis. Asbestos is not as common today, but prior to the 1970’s, it was a staple in building and was used frequently for roofing, siding, insulation, flooring, plaster, cement, pipe wrapping, fabrics and even brake pads.
Who is Most At Risk for Asbestosis?
People who develop asbestosis generally have been exposed to high concentrations of asbestos fibers over a prolonged period of time. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have documented the hazards of asbestos for many years. Sadly, warnings have come too late for many people who were exposed to asbestos decades ago. These individuals include:
Even though asbestos is not as common today, many workers in these industries are still at risk. This is especially so if they are working in older homes or businesses, are demolishing buildings or are working around ships.
What are the Symptoms of Asbestosis?
Asbestosis is similar to silicosis in that symptoms may develop over time, with presentation being years or even decades after exposure. In fact, most people who develop asbestosis do not experience symptoms for several years. Asbestosis is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms will continue to develop and worsen over time. What is more concerning is the fact that there is currently no cure.
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos should be mindful of the following symptoms, and should get medical attention right away. Symptoms of asbestosis include:
- Persistent Cough
- Difficulty Breathing
- Chest Pain
- Clubbing (widening or rounding) of the Fingers or Toes
- Weight Loss
Can Asbestosis Be Treated?
There is currently no cure for asbestosis. However, doctors can treat the symptoms of the disease as best as possible with supportive care. Often, this includes oxygen therapy, medication and pulmonary rehabilitation. Doctors also often recommend the patient make lifestyle changes in order to slow down progression or prevent complications of the disease.
Lifestyle changes that can help relieve symptoms and slow progression include:
- Avoid Asbestos Exposure
- Stopping Smoking
- Avoid Airborne Allergens
- Get Annual Pneumococcal and Influenza Vaccines
- Get Annual Lung Cancer Screenings
Every patient is different, and the treatment plan your doctor chooses will depend on your overall health, other conditions you may have and the degree of damage already done to your lungs.
Occupational Diseases Lawyer
Many people with asbestosis were unaware of the dangers of the products and materials they worked with. This may have been due to employers failing to warn them, or due to a manufacturer failing to disclose the risks. Exposure is also often the result of inadequate or defective personal protective equipment (PPE).
If you have developed asbestosis, silicosis, or other lung diseases as a result of toxic exposure, contact the occupational diseases lawyer at AkinMears, L.L.P. Learn more about your legal rights and find out if you have a legal claim. If so, you may qualify for compensation. Find out by calling 888-357-8191.