Asbestosis is a respiratory health problem that is the direct result of ingesting or swallowing asbestos fibers or dust through prolonged or high level exposure. Those that are exposed to asbestos in this way risk the formation and development of scar tissue within the lungs. Once this formation occurs, the lung is no longer able to function normally in terms of expansion and contraction, although the level of damage will depend upon the level of unprotected exposure to asbestos fibers and dust.
Asbestos is a material that was once widely used in a number of different applications. Although its use was phased out after the dangers and health hazards of the material became widely known, it can still be found in many products, buildings, and other materials. Everything from your home to your car could contain asbestos in some form. However, the danger comes when the asbestos is disturbed and the dust and particles from the asbestos become airborne and are then breathed in or swallowed by those exposed to it.
There are a number of possible symptoms of asbestosis, and anyone that has been exposed to asbestos at significant levels or has worked with asbestos should familiarize themselves with the symptoms and ensure that they remain vigilant for the onset of any of these symptoms. Some of these include shortness of breath, persistent coughing, chest tightness and pains, finger clubbing, and nail problems.
Anyone that has been exposed to asbestos and feels that they may have asbestosis needs to seek immediate help to enable doctors to provide the most effective treatment possible. There are a number of ways in which a doctor may be able to detect the presence of asbestosis and make a firm diagnosis. These include pulmonary function tests, chest x-rays, and CT scans of the lungs. Medics can use sophisticated diagnostic methods in order to determine whether you are suffering from asbestosis, but like any other disease, the earlier the symptoms are recognized and a diagnosis made the better the chance of more effective treatment.
With regards to treatment for asbestosis, there is no actual cure available. For those that are exposed to asbestos regularly, it is important to cease this exposure immediately in order to stop the problem from getting any worse. Symptoms can be eased through various procedures and treatments currently in use for asbestosis patients, and these include postural drainage, chest percussion and vibration, all of which can help to support respiratory function that may have been compromised due to the asbestosis.
Some of the treatments that may be required include prescription medications in order to reduce the secretions or an oxygen mask that feeds oxygen through the nostrils. There are even support groups in operation that can help sufferers of asbestosis to deal with the illness and to get advice and support from others that are in the same situation as well as from experts that are trained and knowledgeable about the issue of asbestosis.
There are complications and related diseases that can arise from asbestosis, and these include pleural effusion and mesothelioma. For those that go on to develop mesothelioma, the outlook is particularly bleak as the vast majority of those diagnosed with mesothelioma die within a short time – typically 6 to 12 months – of diagnosis.
In order to avoid the discomfort and possible complications of asbestosis it is important to take precautionary measures. This means that anyone that has worked with or still works with asbestos products should speak to their doctor with regards to screening for signs of such health issues. Even if you do not work with asbestos but feel that you may have been exposed to its dust and fibers, you should still seek assistance in order for an early diagnosis to be made and the most effective treatment possible given.
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