Asbestosis is the most common disease caused by asbestos exposure. It causes non-cancerous scar tissue to develop on a person’s lungs. This scar tissue can prevent airflow to the lungs, and causes serious symptoms which can prove to be fatal over time. Get a free asbestosis case review to pursue financial compensation.
What Is Asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by long-term damage from asbestos fibers. If asbestos products are disturbed, they release fibers into the air. These fibers are microscopic, so you do not know you are breathing them in.
Once inside your body, these fibers can settle in one or both lungs. Since the asbestos fibers are so strong, your body cannot get rid of them. They also cause damage to your lungs by irritating healthy lung tissue. The lungs get scarred and stiffen from this irritation over time.
Patients with asbestosis frequently have problems breathing because of the damage to their lungs. These problems can be life-threatening in severe cases.
Both asbestosis and mesothelioma share the same risk factors, causes, and symptoms. However, asbestos fibers settle in different parts of the body in each case. Doctors still do not know how the fibers wind up in different body parts.
Asbestos and Asbestosis
Asbestos is a natural mineral extracted from below the Earth’s surface. The mineral is cheap, durable, and fire-resistant. These factors made it a popular choice for many industrial products. It was used to make paint, insulation, drywall, and other building materials.
In recent decades, however, asbestos fibers have been linked to various types of diseases and cancers. However, even after asbestos companies knew their products were incredibly dangerous to human health, they chose to hide the truth.
At the time, the asbestos industry was very profitable. Asbestos companies feared to expose the dangers of their products. Their decision put the lives of thousands of men and women in jeopardy.
Asbestos exposure may have taken place through:
- High-risk trades, such as construction, mining, and carpentry
- Service in the military, especially in shipyards
- Secondhand or “take-home” exposure
Now, those who were exposed to asbestos decades ago are developing fatal diseases, including cancer.
Among the many diseases caused by asbestos exposure is asbestosis. Asbestosis causes a person’s lungs to become calloused and restricted by scar tissue. This scar tissue forms from irritation by inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers. While it is benign, it can be deadly and is one of the most common asbestos-related diseases.
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Asbestosis vs Mesothelioma
There are key differences between asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. The biggest is that asbestosis is not a form of cancer. It is a chronic disorder of the lung that causes progressive damage and scarring. On the other hand, mesothelioma is a rare cancer with no cure.
These diseases also develop in two different parts of the body. Asbestosis affects the lung directly. In mesothelioma, the asbestos fibers get stuck in the lining of the lungs (the pleura).
Mesothelioma first starts out as a nodule, or a tiny mass that looks like a pimple but rapidly grows into a sheet. This growth prevents the affected lung from working properly.
What Are Symptoms of Asbestosis
It is hard to distinguish asbestosis from mesothelioma as they share similar symptoms and causes. Doctors can almost never tell the difference between them without advanced imaging tests.
Both lung conditions have long latency periods, with symptoms developing 20-50 years after breathing in or swallowing asbestos dust.
Shared symptoms of asbestosis and mesothelioma include:
- Appetite and weight loss
- Chest pains
- Persistent, dry cough
- Shortness of breath
Long-Term Issues Caused by Asbestosis
A person with asbestosis will often experience breathing issues and decreased lung function. Over time, serious health problems from asbestosis can develop as the disease worsens.
Long-term complications include:
- Clubbing (fingertips and toes that appear wider and rounder than normal)
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
- Lung cancer
Diagnosis of Asbestosis
Doctors typically order imaging tests to determine the cause of serious symptoms. These tests allow them to see if there are any suspicious masses (like tumors) in or near the lung. In the process, doctors can narrow down what illness you may have.
These tests include:
- Chest X-rays
- CT scans
- Tests of lung functioning
However, the only way to formally diagnose an asbestos-related disease is through a biopsy.
A biopsy is a sample of tissue that doctors examine for a disease. If a person has pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lung lining, doctors will take a biopsy from the pleura. To diagnose asbestosis, doctors need a sample directly from the lung.
Once the sample is collected, doctors will look for abnormalities, such as cancer cells, under a microscope. Doctors will order additional tests to determine the extent and severity of the disease or cancer.
Patients who work or live around asbestos — or who did in the past — should be sure to talk to their doctors about their history of exposure.
Both mesothelioma and lung cancer have no cures, but they can be treated. However, treatments for each present challenges.
Mesothelioma may be treatable with surgery, depending on the age and overall health of the patient. If caught early on, patients may be able to extend their life by several months or years. Patients diagnosed with late-stage mesothelioma can receive treatments to reduce their symptoms.
The downside is that, since mesothelioma has no cure, it is almost always fatal.
Asbestosis also has no cure, and unfortunately, there are not a lot of treatment options for it. However, those with asbestosis generally live longer than those with mesothelioma.
Health care professionals will recommend that patients exercise, eat well, and take oxygen-supportive medication. These activities can help manage the disease's symptoms. Some patients may also need a lung transplant in rare instances.
Though asbestosis presents long-term symptoms that worsen over time, it is not as deadly as mesothelioma. Most people diagnosed with asbestosis can survive for many years after the fact.
On the other hand, mesothelioma is highly aggressive and notoriously hard to treat. New treatments show promise but there is no known cure. Only a low number of people survive for many years after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
The only way to not develop an asbestos-related disease is to avoid asbestos fibers altogether.
If you or a loved one has any notable symptoms, it is very important that you talk to your doctor about any previous exposure to asbestos. You may also need to see a mesothelioma specialist.
Seeking Compensation after an Asbestosis Diagnosis
Like mesothelioma, asbestosis is caused solely by exposure to dangerous asbestos fibers. Asbestos was used widely during the 20th century across dozens of industries, putting certain workers at an increased risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis.
Companies who made and sold asbestos-containing products knew of the harm they could cause to workers’ health. However, they chose to hide the truth to keep making profits. Their negligence put thousands of workers and military veterans at risk of falling ill later in life.
Filing an Asbestosis Lawsuit
If you believe you were exposed to asbestos on the job or while serving in the military and developed asbestosis as a result, do not wait. Compensation may be available to you. This compensation can be used to cover medical expenses, supplement lost income, and provide for your family. Pursuing an asbestosis lawsuit with experienced asbestos lawyers is critical to maximizing your potential compsenation.
Get a Free Legal Case Review Now
For those suffering from asbestosis, the time to take legal action is now. Get a free case review today to learn about your legal options and if you qualify for compensation.