Asbestosis is scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure. It robs you of your breath, it is debilitating, and it can lead to heart failure. Asbestosis has no cure. It is non-malignant, but it can be fatal.
How asbestosis develops
Asbestosis develops as your immune systems tries and fails to rid your lungs of asbestos. Asbestos fibers are very tiny and sharp. When you inhale the fibers they collect in your lungs. There they make contact with the air sacs, and your immune system starts trying to get rid of them. Your lungs become inflamed, but your immune system cannot get rid of these fibers, and connective tissue is deposited. Your immune system continues to respond, depositing more connective tissue and creating a fibrous mass.
The Effects of Asbestosis
The scar tissue in your lungs prevents them from expanding and contracting properly, lowering your lung capacity. Breathing becomes difficult because of the constriction. Your lungs lose their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide properly, so breathing becomes less and less effective.
At first, you may experience shortness of breath only after physical activity and exertion. Eventually, this can progress to difficulty breathing, even when you are at rest. Normal, everyday activities become tiring, and you have to stop and catch your breath often. Eventually, you may become bedridden because your body simply cannot get enough oxygen to get up and move around.
When your lungs cannot deliver enough oxygen into your bloodstream, your heart works harder trying to compensate. This can eventually put too much of a strain on your heart, causing heart failure.
Symptoms may not appear until 10 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. By this time, there is usually extensive lung damage. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath brought on by physical activity
- Difficulty breathing, even at rest
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Frequent respiratory illness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles
- Finger clubbing
Misdiagnosis is common
The symptoms of asbestosis are often mistaken for symptoms or other, less dangerous illnesses. If you are not aware of having been exposed to asbestos, you may be initially misdiagnosed with asthma or even a cold.
While there is no cure for asbestosis, early detection and treatment is still very important. Untreated asbestosis can lead to pleurisy, lung collapse, and heart failure.
If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos related illness, contact our asbestosis attorneys today., or click here for a free case review.