Unfortunately, asbestosis has no cure at the moment. The role of the existing treatment is to keep the disease under control and alleviate symptoms. Every year, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. lose their lives to asbestosis, the majority of whom were exposed to the carcinogen in the workplace before 1980. It is also worthy of note that smokers with a history of heavy occupational asbestos exposure are substantially more likely to develop asbestosis and other related diseases than non-smokers who handled the hazardous mineral on the job. In addition to lung cancer and mesothelioma, asbestosis sufferers are also prone to malignant diseases such as colorectal and kidney cancer, since asbestos fibers can easily travel through the body via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system from the lungs to nearby or distant organs.
The most common symptoms of asbestosis, which are very similar to the signs of numerous other types of pulmonary disease, include:
- a lingering dry cough
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- chest tightness
- a crackling sound when breathing
- loss of appetite
- nail clubbing
- unexplained weight loss
Asbestosis is irreversible. However, early diagnosis implies a better prognosis. With adequate treatment, asbestosis can be successfully kept under control and the person will experience minimal symptoms, being able to enjoy a higher quality of life. Therefore, if you held down a job which involved working with asbestos or being surrounded by it, monitoring your health by undergoing annual screenings is essential, as asbestosis is often asymptomatic in the beginning.