Page Updated: June 22, 2019

Asbestosis Guide

Asbestosis is a disease that affects the tissues of the lungs with scarring, making it extremely difficult to breathe. The disease moves slowly and gets worse over time. Some victims may feel no symptoms at all while others may experience a range of serious effects, which closely mimic mesothelioma symptoms.

As with all asbestos-related diseases, victims of asbestosis usually contract the disease from asbestos exposure, typically while working at job sites prior to the early 80s that used the mineral. Asbestos was commonly used in pipes, floors, shingles, cement, and as insulation before it was banned from production and shipment.

However, by the time production and shipping of asbestos stopped, many victims had already been exposed to so much of the toxic set of minerals that their health was already in poor condition.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos-related cancer, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more. 

asbestos sign

Causes of Asbestosis

Asbestosis is almost exclusively caused by tiny asbestos getting caught in the lungs. When you breathe in asbestos, you run the risk of fine, odorless and microscopic fibers getting lodged in your lungs. This almost always happens after long-term exposure to asbestos, but in rare cases, it can happen to those who have only had short-term exposure.

Although mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis closely resemble each other, mesothelioma is a disease in which cancerous cells build up on several different body parts (most typically, the lungs), but asbestosis is an illness in which scar tissue develops on the lungs.

Asbestosis Prognosis

According to the American Lung Association (ALA), asbestosis can last a lifetime and can also be the cause of death. There were over 3,000 deaths between 1999 through 2004 in the U.S. from asbestosis.  In most cases, asbestosis victims will eventually need an oxygen tank in order to breathe.

How severe asbestosis is all depends upon how long a victim has been exposed to asbestos and how much many of the fibers were inhaled. Unfortunately, it can take decades for symptoms to show up, if at all. If you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, seek medical assistance immediately.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Asbestosis

As aforementioned, some asbestosis victims may not experience many symptoms, and almost all victims won’t experience symptoms until decades later. The most common warning signs include:

  • Chest tightness and pain
  • Difficulty in breathing with shortness of breath
  • An odd crackle-type sound when inhaling
  • Appetite changes such as loss of appetite

Unfortunately, the warning signs of asbestosis mimic allergies, the common cold, and/or the flu, and victims may prolong a doctor visit. However, getting immediate medical treatment can possibly help you battle the disease much more effectively it’s detected as soon as possible.

In order to be diagnosed with asbestosis, a physician typically takes X-rays of the chest, along with performing a biopsy and a complete physical exam. During the biopsy, a surgeon will remove a tiny portion of the lung tissues in order to search for asbestos fibers.

Treatment for Asbestosis

Although there is no cure for asbestosis, there are a variety of treatments available so that victims can still enjoy and prolong their lives. In many instances, asbestosis and mesothelioma treatment options are similar.

Depending on the severity of the disease, physicians may recommend several options, including an entire lung transplant, oral and physical therapy, flu shots, aerosol medicine, and more. Physical and oral therapy may include exercises that help ease pain and remove mucous.

Living with Asbestosis

Aside from medical treatments, there is a variety of self-help methods you can use in order to live more successfully with asbestosis. Starting a healthy diet plan, first and foremost, will start you on the right path.

A healthy diet should consists of plenty of fruits of fruits and vegetables while limiting salt intake, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Diseases Registry (ATSDR). Additionally, unless specified otherwise by your physician, you should drink at least seven to eight glasses of water per day.

Along with a proper diet, asbestosis victims should always get enough rest. ATSDR suggest getting at least eight hours of sleep per night and light naps to reduce your chances of getting too tired.

Asbestosis victims must also try their best to keep away from bacteria and germs. Wash your hands as much as possible and try not to be in large crowds too much, if possible. In addition, stay indoors if pollution and/or smog are at a high point, and avoid getting too close to cleaning supplies that contain aerosol, gasoline fumes, and other irritants that can flare up your lungs.

Further, ATSDR recommends keeping a journal in which you can track down your symptoms and things that may have triggered pain. Pay close attention to breathing difficulties and how long each bout lasts. Be sure to share your information with your physician.

Asbestosis Lawsuits

In the early 1980s, the state of New Jersey experienced the first mass tort lawsuit after several victims and family members of deceased victims came forward to file wrongful death and personal injury claims.

This was the start of what would become standard in courts across the nation as more and more victims came forward. The plaintiffs in these cases were all exposed asbestos, particularly raw asbestos, which led to asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestosis cases have not been limited solely to the U.S. For example, in 1984, and Australian attorney helped over 300 workers fight for compensation after being exposed to asbestos at the Wittenoom mill. Wittenoom is a national park in Western Australia, yet what was once a beautiful park is now known as a place of suffering after thousands were exposed to asbestos while mining in the area.

In another Australian lawsuit, several victims and family members came forward after being exposed to asbestos in the Latrobe Valley, where the State Electricity Commission of Virginia (SECV) employed workers in their power stations.

During construction of the power stations, employees were working daily while being subjected to large amounts of asbestos. As a result, a good portion of the workers were later diagnosed with asbestosis.

Getting Legal Help

If you’ve been injured by mesothelioma or asbestos-related cancer, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area.