As asbestosis is an illness that does not show itself for 10-40 years, it often catches people by surprise, and they don’t realise that they have the condition. If you have been showing signs of an illness lately, and you’re not quite sure what the problem is, this article should help you to determine whether asbestos has anything to do with.
What causes asbestosis?
Asbestosis occurs when an individual has been exposed to asbestos fibres. Usually, to suffer from this disease, you must have been exposed to Asbestos dust in high quantities and over a long period of time. However, there are some exceptions, albeit rare ones. Asbestosis occurs when the airborne fibres are lodged in your alveoli, which are small sacs in your lungs. Asbestosis makes it difficult to breathe because the fibres scar and irritate the lung tissue, resulting in the stiffening of the lungs.
What are the risk factors?
You may associate asbestosis with people that used to work down in the mines. While it is true that such individuals are at a greater risk, there are a lot of situations that could cause asbestos exposure. Namely, people that worked in the manufacturing, mining, and milling industries before the late 1970s are at greatest risk. This includes shipyard workers, railroad workers, electricians, building construction workers, boiler operators, auto and aircraft mechanics, and asbestos miners. Of course, workers involved with getting rid of asbestos insulation around steam pipes in older properties and any other type of asbestos removal are also at risk. However, anyone can be exposed to asbestos. You may have entered an old factory at some point or you may have simply came into contact with clothing containing asbestos fibres, and so it is important that you don’t rule out this illness simply because you’ve never worked in the industry jobs mentioned above. It is also important to note that if you are a smoker, this can cause the disease to progress faster because cigarettes increase asbestos fibre retention in the lungs.
Symptoms of asbestosis
As mentioned in the introduction, the symptoms of asbestosis don’t tend to show themselves for at least ten years, and this is what makes the disease such a difficult one. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- Clubbing, i.e. toes or fingertips that look rounder and wider than usual
- Weight loss caused by a loss of appetite
- A dry and persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Crackling sound when breathing
- Blood in sputum
- Difficulty swallowing
Needless to say, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is vital to book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. It may turn out that you don’t have Asbestosis at all, but it is best to be safe than sorry. And, of course, if you know anyone that worked in any of the industries mentioned above before the late 70s, make sure you keep an eye out for these symptoms so you can catch the illness early. For information on another type of disease that is a huge threat to health, check out this blog post.