Asbestosis symptoms can be experienced by people who are living near an asbestos plant who somehow have come into close contact with asbestos waste products. Asbestosis is a lung condition that is mainly caused by the asbestos exposure. Individuals who are directly exposed to these microscopic, hazardous minerals like in their working area are at great risk as well as their family members who unknowingly inhale the particles of asbestos dust that adheres to the workers’ clothes.
Development of Asbestosis
Our lungs have agents which trap dusts, microorganisms and other foreign particles in the air that we breathe. Generally they are filtered by the hair-like structures in the nose called cilia, or they are being coughed out of the system. In the case of asbestos mineral fibers, specifically the microscopic glass-like amphibole fibers, majority are not filtered in the nose or in the tracheal cilia or the bronchi since they are extremely thin and light. Their lightness and significant thinness makes it completely stubborn to initial filtering that most of it continuous its way through the whole air passage and finally to the lungs’ air sacs or alveoli, where the vital process of oxygen absorption into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide being expelled out of it takes place. Now with the presence of asbestos fibers in the air sacs, the vital function of the alveoli is disrupted and the whole respiratory system is compromised. The lungs normally combat any foreign particles that enter into it by means of its defense cells called macrophages which act to ingest said particles after destroying them. With amphiboles as foreign particles, the macrophages will try to destroy it by exuding certain substance, but by any means possible will fail since the fiber itself is unbreakable.
The life-threatening amphiboles stays in the lungs, while the substance continually exuded by the macrophages gradually damages the alveolus causing inflammation and producing scar tissues, a condition called fibrosis. Asbestosis follows as fibrosis continuous for 2 to 3 decades, worsening the lung condition dramatically as scar tissue clogs up the air sacs somehow deterring the imperative gaseous exchange. With this, there is not enough oxygen in the bloodstream that is expected to aid all of the organ systems’ activities.
Signs and Symptoms of Asbestosis
Early sign of Asbestosis is dyspnea or shortness of breath. Continued exposure to asbestos accelerates scarring of the lung tissues. Further build-up of fibroid tissues disables the lungs to expand normally every breathing attempt. The lungs need extra effort to force them to expand to take full breaths. This symptom becomes conspicuous when the affected person does tedious work or is exercising. As the lung condition gets worse, dyspnea may be observed even if the person is not doing any activity at all.
Other common symptoms include persistent dry cough mainly due to the inflamed lungs. Another is chronic fatigue since the body is overworked exerting too much trying to cope with breathing. Chest pain may also be experienced especially on a full breath. Added symptom is when there is sudden and unexplained weight loss due to insufficient distribution of oxygenated blood in the capillaries to the whole body’s system which suppose to aid in the absorption of nutrients. And of course with the condition of not having to breathe freely at all, you might not eat well. Another indication is the crackling sound in the lungs heard using a stethoscope. Clubbing of the fingers and sometimes coupled with changes in the texture of the nails is also an indication of asbestosis but not at all very common.
As Asbestosis symptoms progress, it can lead to other serious problems like lung hypertension which may contribute to the enlargement of the heart ventricles and eventually heart failure. Asbestosis is known to be incurable. Once you have, let’s say ample amphibole fibers in your lungs it stays there forever. If you are suspecting to have the condition given the above mentioned symptoms, have it confirmed by a medical specialist. If the tests are suggestive of asbestosis, breathe still and have hope. They have ways to alleviate your condition. Avoid anything that makes the matter worse like smoking or drinking as it can hamper breathing, or stop working in the plant where you got the disease. There’s nothing better than to breathe effortlessly because breathing should be involuntary.