Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition that causes damage to the tissue of the lungs. Asbestosis symptoms tend to begin to show after fifteen to twenty years after the initial asbestos exposure occurred. Some symptoms begin quite mildly but then become more sever over time- shortness of breath is a common example of this.
At first the shortness of breath may only occur as a result of physical activity but as time goes by it will begin to occur during periods of rest too.
A cough is another symptom of asbestosis, unlike normal coughs asbestosis coughs do not get better, instead they get worse.
Another symptom, of asbestosis is chest pain, chest pain can be caused by many other conditions so it is wise to see a doctor as soon as possible.
A less common symptom reported is a swelling and reddening of the fingers. This is called finger clubbing and occurs due to a build up of fluid in the fingers.
Your GP will ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing and probably listen to your chest using a stethoscope. If you are suffering from asbestosis then the doctor will hear a distinctive crackling noise as you exhale.
Your doctor will need to take a full medical history and will ask whether or not you have been exposed to asbestos, and whether you were using any protective equipment at the tie or not.
If you have suspected asbestosis then you will be tested using one of the following three methods; a chest x-ray, a spirometer test (which involves monitoring how much oxygen you can breathe in and how much carbon dioxide you can breathe out) or possibly a CT scan. A CT scan can pick up asbestosis even at a very early stage and give a detailed picture of what is going on it the lungs.