What are the Symptoms of Asbestosis?

What are the Symptoms of Asbestosis?

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What are the Symptoms of Asbestosis?

For decades, workers in many industries, such as steel and shipbuilding, were exposed to dangerous amounts of asbestos. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that companies had to adhere to strict government regulations limiting the use of asbestos.   In some cases, the damage was already done and the effects of the exposure are just being realized today.  Like mesothelioma, it usually takes over a decade, if not several decades, after asbestos exposure that asbestosis arises. Generally, asbestosis is diagnosed 15 years after exposure.

Common Symptoms

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos.  These fibers make their way to one’s lungs and become embedded in the inner tissue.Over time, the tissue begins to scar, and then harden, which stops the flow of oxygen, making it hard for the patient to breathe. Signs and symptoms of asbestosis include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Crackling sound when breathing
  • Persistent, dry cough
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Loss of weight and appetite

Advanced symptoms

  • Clubbing of fingers and toes – With the lack of oxygen reaching the body’s extremities, the tips of the fingers and toes appear wider and rounder than normal. In addition, fingernails and toenails will take on the shape and become deformed.
  • Pulmonary hypertension – The presence of scar tissue in the lungs can restrict the arteries causing pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lungs. If untreated, the exertion placed on the heart could potentially lead to heart disease or failure.

Not only are those that have been directly exposed to asbestos at risk, but their loved ones can be at risk, too. Bystander exposures have affected family members in the same household as those who have worked around high levels of asbestos. The tiny fibers brought home on the workers’ clothing, tools, shoes, and hair, are released into the air and inhaled by others in the house.

Prevention

The only known prevention of asbestosis is reducing your exposure to asbestos.  With the federal regulations established in the United States in the 1980s, companies are required to take safety measures, protecting employees that handle asbestos products.  Following your company’s safety rules is the best form of protection.

Generally, for those living or working in houses or buildings that were constructed before the mid-1970s, there is little cause for concern.  The only time there could be a potential risk of exposure is when the asbestos fibers are disturbed and released into the air during construction, remodeling or demolition.

If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos and is experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.  If you have already been diagnosed with asbestosis due to occupational exposure, you may be entitled to compensation.  It is imperative you contact an Asbestos Lawyer immediately.