Asbestosis is a breathing disorder caused by inhaling high levels of asbestos fibers. Accumulation of these fibers in your lungs can lead to scarring which is known as fibrosis, of lung tissue and diminished breathing capacity. You might not beware that you have asbestosis because it usually doesn’t appear until years after exposure. But once known, the condition often worsens and can lead to death and disability. It may also be called: Amianthosis, Asbestos pneumoconiosis, Pulmonary asbestosis.
Known to be resistant to heat and corrosion; asbestos is a natural mineral product. Its fibers, which are strong and flexible, are easily woven together and were used extensively in the past in the manufacturing and building industries. Pipe and duct insulation, fire-retardant materials, brake and clutch linings, cement, and some vinyl floor tiles are the most common uses.
Before the federal government began regulating the use of asbestos and asbestos products in the mid-1970s, the people most likely to develop asbestosis are people that had high levels of contact with it. The majority of people with asbestosis acquired it on the job Today, it is strictly regulated by federal, state and local government agencies. Still, since the 1940s, up to 10 million people may have been exposed to asbestos.
These days, most instances of asbestos exposure occur during removal of old asbestos products or the demolition of old buildings that were built with materials that contain asbestos. In such situations, only professionals who wear protective gear and are trained in the handling of asbestos should partake in any removal.
Asbestosis Signs and Symptoms
The effects of long-term exposure to asbestos typically don’t show up for 20 years or more after exposure. Signs and symptoms develop when damage and scarring caused by the asbestos fibers lead to stiffness in your lung tissue so that your lungs can’t contract and expand normally.
Asbestosis common signs and symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath, initially only with exertion but eventually even while resting
- Decreased tolerance for physical activity
- Chest pain
Although these are similar to signs and symptoms of a condition such as asthma, in asbestosis the effects of the disease are insidious, occurring over months and years.
When you inhale, air travels through your nose or mouth, down your throat, through your larynx to your trachea, air’s main passageway to your lungs. Your trachea splits into two branches called bronchi, one carrying air to the left lung, one to the right. Within each lung, the bronchi branch off into smaller and smaller airways. The smallest of these airways (bronchioles) end in tiny air sacs (alveoli).
Alveoli have very thin, elastic walls that allow an exchange of gases vital to your health, oxygen flows from the alveoli into your bloodstream to nourish your body, and carbon dioxide waste flows from your bloodstream into the alveoli and on into your bronchi to be expelled.
Normally, microorganisms, dust and other foreign particles in the air you breathe are filtered out by being trapped in your nose hairs or being expelled when you cough. Even when unwanted particles do get into your lungs, immune cells destroy most of them. Alveoli, for example, house their own special cleanup crew, immune cells called macrophages, which are attracted to and ingest foreign substances such as smoke particles, dust and chemicals.
Unfortunately, asbestos fibers are difficult to destroy, even for macrophages. When a macrophage attempts to ingest an asbestos fiber, it often fails because the fiber is too long. In the process, however, the macrophage leaks out substances that were supposed to destroy the foreign body but that can also harm the alveoli. This causes the alveoli to become inflamed and eventually scar, a process referred to as fibrosis. If many fibers are inhaled over a long period of time, the cumulative scarring of alveoli reduces their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The result is that your lung capacity diminishes, oxygen exchange is diminished, and you feel increasingly short of breath.
No treatment can reverse the effects of asbestos on the alveoli. Treatment is aimed at preventing progression and relieving symptoms. The most important factor in stopping progression is ceasing exposure to asbestos. Most of the time, scarring of lung tissue doesn’t begin or progress when exposure has ended.
To ease difficulty breathing, your doctor may prescribe supplemental oxygen or drain fluid from around your lungs, if necessary. Occasionally, severe cases of asbestosis may be treated with lung transplantation.
Doctors often treat the complication of pulmonary hypertension with medications to expand or relax blood vessels, and blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots from forming and obstructing narrowed vessels.
Their is a safe and natural product that may significantly help the body maintain normal fibrin levels and lower C-reactive protein levels and is being used by many to reduce the restriction and shrinkage in the lungs from the formation of fibrosis or scar tissue, it is call Vitalzym.
Even though quite obvious, reducing your level of exposure to asbestos is the best prevention. In the United States, by law, a worker’s exposure to asbestos may not exceed 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air. Federal law requires employers in industries that work with asbestos products, such as construction and shipyard industries, to monitor exposure levels, create regulated areas for asbestos work, and provide their employees with appropriate training, protective gear and decontamination hygiene areas.
Many homes built before the 1970s contain asbestos products such as building insulation, insulation for hot-water and steam pipes, soundproofing and decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings, older stove-top and ironing board pads, as well as some types of textured paint, patch compounds, roofing and siding shingles, and vinyl floor tiles. Generally, there’s no cause for concern being around these products as long as they’re in good condition and you don’t disturb them or cause them to disintegrate. It’s when they are damaged that there’s a danger of asbestos fibers being released into the air. If you need repair or removal of an asbestos product, have it done by a professional.
Preventing complications, related conditions:
If you smoke, it’s important to stop, particularly because of the extremely heightened risk of lung cancer. In addition, smoking may cause emphysema, which further reduces your lung reserves.
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