Asbestos was commonly used in numerous industries, particularly manufacturing and construction, for decades. Many victims of asbestos exposure don’t even realize that they were exposed — until they get sick with an asbestos-related condition.
One of those conditions is asbestosis, or pulmonary fibrosis. Slow-to-develop, asbestosis may not begin to show for decades after someone was last exposed to asbestos.
What causes asbestosis?
Asbestosis, like other diseases of its nature, is caused by inhaling tiny asbestos fibers. In this case, the fibers actually embed themselves in a victim’s lungs. Scar tissue then builds up over the fibers, gradually increasing in depth until the lungs begin to have difficulty operating properly. It is this scar tissue that causes the victim’s health to decline.
You stand an enhanced chance of developing scar tissue that will lead to asbestosis if you are a smoker in addition to a victim of asbestos exposure since smoking also affects your lungs’ ability to expand and contract properly.
What are the early symptoms of asbestosis?
The earliest symptoms may be hard to detect, especially for smokers. By the time the condition starts to evolve, you may notice:
- A growing sense of restriction in your chest
- Difficulty breathing, particularly with exertion
- A chronic, dry cough that can be disruptive
- Chest pain which is worse with deep breathing
- A loss of your appetite, which is caused by the discomfort in your chest
- Finger deformities, which are caused by a lack of oxygen to your extremities
Some victims notice the deformities of their nails and a “clubbing” of their fingertips before they even notice the shortness in their breath, simply because they may have acclimated to their breathing difficulties over time as the condition slowly worsened.
Asbestosis is not curable at this time — but it can be treated and controlled with proper medical care. If exposure to asbestos has caused your illness, you may be eligible for compensation that can help provide you with the care that you need to live a fuller life and take care of your family.