Asbestosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. It is caused by long term inflammation and lung scarring. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness. Because this diagnosis is caused only by asbestos fibers, doctors will often begin by asking about the patient history of exposure.
Occurs After a Long Period
Asbestosis is most often diagnosed after long term exposure to asbestos fibers. Because of the long latency period, this exposure often occurs 15 to 40 years prior to asbestosis diagnosis. Asbestosis can develop into mesothelioma and as a result, requires monitoring.
What are the Most Common Symptoms?
There are a number of symptoms which are characteristic of asbestosis. It is important not to try and self-diagnose and to speak with your doctor if you think you may have asbestosis. Symptoms may include:
- High blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Crackling sound while breathing
- Swelling in the face or the neck
- Difficulty swallowing
Typically, symptoms begin as a result of fibrosis, or scarring of the lungs. This results in shortness of breath and coughing. Over time, patients loose lung function as the lungs become less elastic. This results in a lack of oxygen supplied and places stress on the lungs and heart which can lead to lung or heart failure.