What is Asbestosis?

Asbestosis is a type of dust disease, also known as pneumoconiosis, caused by exposure to asbestos.

When asbestos fibres are inhaled, this can lead to inflammation of the lungs, resulting in scarring or fibrosis. Symptoms can take 10 to 20 years to become noticeable and there is currently no existing cure available for asbestosis so it can prove to be an incredibly harmful disease.

The first recorded case of asbestosis was in 1924 when an English textile worker died after prolonged exposure to asbestos. From 1929, asbestos-related lawsuits became increasingly commonplace and have cost businesses and individuals millions of dollars in settlements.

Today, the use and importing of asbestos is completely banned in Australia.

Although there is a ban in place, it does not affect asbestos materials that were in use prior to it being outlawed. However, safety measures have been put in place to ensure the safe handling and removal of asbestos from people’s homes and places of work.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Diagnosis of asbestosis is conducted by taking x-rays of the chest. This will usually display any signs of fibrosis which show up as small opaque spots in the base of the lungs.

Alternatively, asbestosis can be diagnosed by the presence of a croaking or crackling sound heard in the chest with a stethoscope.

Other symptoms of asbestosis include:

  • Loss of appetite;
  • Shortage of breath;
  • Tightness in the chest; and
  • Recurring dry coughs

If you have a history of exposure to asbestos, it would be wise to remain mindful of these symptoms and consult a physician to safeguard your future wellbeing and give you peace of mind.

Treatment

Although no curative treatment of asbestosis exists at present, oxygen therapy can be used at home to alleviate any shortness of breath and hypoxia.

Nebulised medication can be prescribed to provide assistance with the removal of secretions in the lungs or to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease that may arise as a result of asbestosis. Respiratory physiotherapy can also be effective in reducing secretions by chest percussion and postural drainage.

Patients suffering from asbestosis will be particularly vulnerable to influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia so immunisations for these diseases will need to be regularly administered.

The best cure for any disease is prevention. If your home or office was built before the ban, get Asbestos Removals Australia to inspect the structure for the presence of this deadly material.


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