Asbestosis Information for Patients and Families: Common Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors for Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a harmful lung condition discovered in patients. This respiratory disease occurs when individuals inhale tiny asbestos fibers that become trapped in the inner layers of the lungs. These small trapped fibers can inflame nearby lung tissue, causing symptoms.

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in older products. Some of these products include wall insulation, vinyl wallpaper, and adhesives. These products were used in various places, including residential and commercial buildings.

Asbestos may lead to deadly cancers such as pericardial mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, or pleural mesothelioma. There are signs, symptoms and risk factors for this respiratory disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Asbestosis

Some patients may not demonstrate any signs or symptoms, while some patients may experience medical symptoms 10 to 20 years after original exposure. Some asbestosis signs and symptoms found in patients include:

  • Shortness of breath–initial breathing problems occur with physical activity such as jogging ,but can be experienced when resting.
  • Chronic cough–the coughing may feel dry and interfere with eating and sleeping.
  • Tiredness–patients may not have the energy to perform daily activities.

Risk Factors for Asbestosis

Patients may have direct or indirect exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. Occupational asbestos exposure is considered a direct exposure method for this respiratory disease.

Direct exposure comes from occupational work environments where asbestos is found. Some common occupations may include:

  • Shipyard workers–insulate boilers and steam pipes were produced with asbestos-related materials before regulations were created.
  • Electrical workers–insulate electrical products both inside and outside of buildings.
  • Auto mechanics–repair brakes with asbestos-tainted brake liners and clutch pads.

Indirect exposure occurs when asbestos-exposed workers have regular contact with other individuals. This indirect contact may occur regularly without workers recognizing exposure levels.

Examples of indirect exposure from exposed workers may include:

  • Spouses–share bed sheets and bed spreads of workers who arrive home and rest on the bed.
  • Children–receive hugs from parents wearing clothing with asbestos fibers.
  • Neighbors–sit on couches where contaminated fibers are located.

Environmental regulations have reduced the number of exposed individuals ,yet some older homes and buildings may still have asbestos fibers. Asbestos specialists may be contacted to help owners comply with proper asbestos removal.

Individuals who experience signs or symptoms and have risk factors of asbestosis should contact a health care professional for confirmation so medical treatment can begin.

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