Asbestosis is a disease of the lungs that occurs when fibers present in asbestos cause your lungs to be scarred. This scarring has the effect of restricting normal breathing which results in a dysfunction in the ability of oxygen to enter a person’s blood. Asbestosis is also known as interstitial pneumonitis or pulmonary fibrosis.
Most of the cases of asbestosis result from exposure to asbestos in various workplaces. In the US and other developed countries, asbestos exposure is regulated through various regulatory laws. The disease takes time to develop and tends to threaten lives. The number of deaths related to asbestos in the US alone is estimated to be around 200,000 by the year 2030 according to the figures estimated by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Inhalation of asbestos fibers may cause them to be embedded in the lungs of a person. This, in turn, forms scar tissue. Such scarring is termed asbestosis. It makes normal breathing problematic as the lung tissue is not able to expand and contract in a normal fashion.
Those employed in industries which deal with asbestos face a much higher risk of developing the condition. Asbestos is usually associated with jobs related to fireproofing and construction. There is a lack of clarity on the laws and their implementation in the developing world but governmental agencies such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) keeps a close watch on its use in the US. Smoking too increases the risks associated with developing asbestosis.
Unfortunately, a cure for asbestosis is yet to be developed. But there are in place a number of treatments that contribute towards controlling the symptoms of the disease or reduce them. Inhalers available through prescription help to make the lung congestion much less. Oxygen too can be provided to bring relief in case your breathing problem becomes acute. The treatment for asbestosis also has a focus on preventing the worsening of symptoms. This may be achieved by preventing further exposure to the material or by quitting smoking in case you happen to be a smoker. In case the condition gets out of hands, a lung transplant may be contemplated by doctors.
Factors that affect the severity and extent of the disease include:
The disease slows down once the exposure is negated. People with the disease may live for decades if there are no complications.