Asbestosis (Lung Fibrosis) – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Asbestosis is a lung disease that occurs when asbestos fibers cause scarring in the lungs. This abnormal tissue will limit breathing and affect the ability of oxygen to enter the bloodstream. Another name for asbestosis is pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial pneumotitis.

This disease takes years to develop in the body and can be life threatening. Asbestos which is still in good condition is not harmful to human health. However, when the abscess is damaged, the material can emit fine dust containing asbestos fibers.

Dust containing asbestos fibers is vulnerable to human inhalation. As a result, the lungs that suck asbestos fibers can be damaged gradually.

Symptoms of Asbestosis

In many cases, symptoms do not appear until about 20 years after asbestosis exposure. Symptoms that are commonly encountered include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A feeling of being bound in the chest
  • A continuous dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bulging fingertips or clubbing fingers
  • There is an abnormal nail shape or nail deformity

Causes of Asbestosis

When you inhale asbestos fibers, these fibers can be left in the lungs and cause scar tissue formation. This tissue causes difficulty in breathing because it prevents the lungs from contracting and relaxing normally.

Your risk increases when you work in a place that contains asbestos. In fact, you can also experience an increased risk of asbestosis and other lung diseases when you smoke.

Asbestosis diagnosis

To find out if you have asbestosis or not, your doctor will usually do several tests to exclude other diagnoses that have similar symptoms

First, the doctor will use a stethoscope to listen for abnormal breathing sounds as part of a physical examination. After that, the doctor will also suggest chest X-ray examination to see if there is a white area or honeycomb appearance of the lungs or chest. Lung function tests can also be used to measure the air that can be inhaled and flung from the lungs.

In the next step, the doctor will do a CT scan to be able to see how oxygen is transferred to the bloodstream. CT scans can also be used to examine lung conditions in more detail. Usually, doctors also recommend doing a biopsy to look for asbestos fibers in the lungs.

Complications of Asbestosis

Asbestosis can develop into a chronic disease known as mestothelioma maligna. Another type of lung cancer that can develop if you smoke. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is also a serious condition that causes complications of asbestosis. Meanwhile, pulmonary fluid that settles in the pleural space, called pleural effusion, can also be a complication of asbestosis.

Factors that influence the severity of this disease depend on how long you breathe it. The spread of asbestosis throughout the body will slow down if exposure to asbestos can be stopped.

Asbestosis Treatment

Asbestosis cannot be treated. However, there are several therapies that can control symptoms. Inhaler recipes can reduce lung congestion. In addition, supplementing oxygen from a mask or hose that fits the nose can help in the event of severe breathing difficulties.

To prevent the development of this disease, you can do this by avoiding asbestos exposure and stopping smoking. Lung transplantation can also be an option if the condition is already very severe.

In addition, one of the asbestosis treatments is through therapy, for example oxygen therapy. This therapy aims to improve the patient’s breathing, especially if oxygen levels in the blood are very low.

The thing to remember, if you work with asbestos exposure every day, always use work safety equipment and routinely check the condition of the lungs. Examples of professions that are at risk of experiencing asbestosis include mining, building and mechanical workers.

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