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What is asbestosis?

February 6, 2017 Published in Firm News,Workers' Compensation

It is commonly known that asbestos is an unsafe material that was used in the 1970s. If you currently work in construction, flooring, plumbing, roofing or with automobiles, you could still be exposed to asbestos on the job. When there is exposure to asbestos on a jobsite, employers are required by law to control work practices, institute engineering controls and establish regulated areas to reduce levels of asbestos in the air. When it comes to this harmful material, there is no safe level of exposure. Those who have been exposed to asbestos in the past may deal with a lung condition called asbestosis.

Asbestosis is linked to scarring in the lungs that limits the ability to breathe long-term. There is no current cure for the disease that is caused by chrysotile fibers in asbestos. As you are exposed to fibers for an extended period, the fibers build up and set the stage for fibrosis or long-term scarring. At this point, the tissues of the lungs thicken, restrict breathing and cause pain.

What are the symptoms of asbestosis?

Most who suffer from asbestosis first notice a shortness of breath or lower tolerance for physical exercise or exertion. The longer you were exposed to the fibers, the more severe your symptoms and condition may be. Other symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in face or neck
  • Coughing
  • Blood in sputum
  • Difficulty swallowing

Once the disease has developed, other conditions may arise such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers and lung complications. In fact, those with asbestosis are 8-10 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those without.

What are the treatment options for asbestosis?

There is no cure for asbestosis, but there are treatment options that can minimize the symptoms and improve the quality of life. These include medications that relieve pain and thin secretions, oxygen therapy to decrease shortness of breath, and secretion removal from the lungs with respiratory physiotherapy.

Who is at risk?

During the 20th century, millions of workers in the United States were exposed to asbestos. Since new regulations were put in place during the early 1970s, those most at risk include automobile workers, firefighter s, demolition workers, asbestos removal workers and drywall removers.

Asbestosis can also be affected by the duration of exposure, the source of exposure, what type of asbestos you were exposed to and how much asbestos you were exposed to.

If you deal with asbestosis from a previous or current job, you may benefit from speaking to an attorney about your options when it comes to compensation and improving regulations for future workers.