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Asbestosis

Overview

Asbestosis is chronic breathing disorder that is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. A person experiences shortness of breath and scarring in lung tissues if the fibers accumulate in the lungs for a long period of time. In the mid 1970,s people in the job make use of asbestos and its related products, due to which they suffer from the condition. At present, handling of asbestosis is strictly regulated. Interstitial pneumonitis- from asbestos exposure and pulmonary fibrosis-from asbestos exposure are the alternative names of the condition.


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Causes

When a person inhales air, it travels from nose or mouth to the lungs. So, if along with air, a person inhales microorganism, foreign particles, dust and other unwanted particles, then these particles are removed by microscopic hairs. Microscopic hairs are present on the airways’ surface. But, asbestos fibers are not destroyed easily. Even if macrophage attempts for ingesting asbestos fiber, it fails to do so because fiber is very long and normally resistant to breakdown. Other than this, genetic factors, increased smoking, etc also help in causing the condition


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Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of the condition do not occur and if they occur, they are experienced at very later stages, say 20 or 30 years after getting affected from the condition. Symptoms start developing when scarring and stiffness caused by the condition lead to stiffness in the lung tissues. Some of the common symptoms of asbestosis are:

  • Chest pain
  • Finger deformity
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nail abnormalities

It is important to disclose that the symptoms of asbestosis are quite similar to other breathing disorders such asthma, etc.

Depending upon the fact that from how long a person was exposed to asbestos and amount of asbestos inhaled, severity of the condition is analyzed. And accordingly treatment is given by the health professionals.

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Prevention

Early screening through chest x-ray only helps in preventing asbestosis. 


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Treatments
Symptomatic Modern Medicine

Although, there is no specific cure available of the condition, treatment basically focuses on alleviating its symptoms and preventing progression of the condition. In order to ease the symptoms, postural drainage, vibration and chest percussion is given that help in removing secretions from the lungs. In some cases, aerosol medications are given for thinning secretions. In very severe cases, health professionals opt for lung transplantation. Some other treatments of asbestosis include pneumonia and flu vaccinations and cessation of smoking. For getting relief from breathing problems, supplemental oxygen may be given with the help of oxygen mask.

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