Asbestosis is a long-term lung condition that is caused by exposure to asbestos, and which can lead to further lung conditions such as cancer and pleurisy. As the Asbestos Safety and Eradication agency explains, asbestos is simply a name for a group of mineral fibres which were very popular as building materials until the mid-1980s, and which are still present in a third of Australian homes. While generally safe when they are undisturbed, when disturbed they can be harmful and cause asbestosis.
Who is at risk of getting asbestosis?
In short, anyone who has lived or worked around asbestos could be at risk. However, people with some occupations are much more at risk because of their jobs, as explained at asbestos.com. The people most at risk tend to be people with physical jobs, such as construction workers, firefighters, and industrial workers.
What are the symptoms of asbestosis?
There are several symptoms of asbestosis, the most common of which are:
- A persistent cough
- Repeated shortness of breath
- Chest pain
If you have any of these symptoms and feel that you may have been exposed to asbestos, then contact your GP immediately.
How is asbestosis diagnosed?
If your GP is worried that you may be suffering from asbestosis, then they will run several tests to make sure. The Mayo Clinic gives a comprehensive description of these tests, which will include a chest X-ray and a CT scan, in order to take a close look at the appearance of your lungs. You may also need a pulmonary function test to check how your lungs are functioning.
Can asbestosis be treated?
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to reverse the damage that asbestosis does to the lungs. However, your doctor will be able to offer you treatments that will improve the function of your lungs and lessen your symptoms, as well as providing you with oxygen to use at home if your symptoms are severe enough. They will also keep an eye on your function over the years, as well as give you advice on your lifestyle and general health. Some people with severe asbestosis may be considered for a lung transplant, but this is dependent on a variety of factors including age and general health.
While asbestosis is a serious condition, there is a lot that doctors can do to help alleviate your symptoms and it is best to start treatment sooner rather than later. It is also worth remembering that if you are concerned about the presence of asbestos in your home or workplace, you can pay for quick and accurate asbestos testing for any space.