Asbestosis – The Slightly Lesser Evil of Breathing Asbestos In
Asbestos is fibrous mineral that as both extreme positive and negative characteristics. The positive side evolves from its incredible ability to resist heat, but the negative side is all about the dangerous health implication it can have. In this article, we take a look at one lung problem known as asbestosis.
Mention asbestos in a conversation about health and one word comes to mind – Mesothelioma. “Meso” is a rare form of cancer that is associated with exposure to asbestos in a dust like form in the air. The asbestos gets down into the lungs and cannot be expelled. The asbestos eventually gets into the lung-blood interface and causes mutations leading to cancer. This does not always happen, however. Sometimes, asbestosis is the result.
Asbestosis is the name given to a condition that arises when asbestos is breathed in, but does not cause Mesothelioma. Instead, the asbestos fibers become lodged into the surface of the lungs. Slowly, but surely, that area heals over the asbestos and causes scarring. The scarring then prevents that part of the lung from functioning normally.
One small asbestos fiber is really not a problem and isn’t classified as asbestosis. The problem is most people don’t breathe in one fiber. They breathe in hundreds or thousands. This lead to widespread damage to the lungs. The scarring inhibits the ability of the lungs to expand and contract. This, of course, then limits your ability to suck in air and breathe out.
Are there any typical symptoms with asbestosis? They should be very obvious. The first is a shortness of breath. The inability of the lungs to contract and expand simply translates to a lack of oxygen. This can also manifest as chest pain and a reduction in the ability to pursue physical activity given the lack of lung volume.
Is asbestosis terminal? No. It is not a cancer like Mesothelioma or lung cancer. Once exposure to asbestos is terminated, the health problem should stabilize.