What is asbestosis?
People exposed to asbestos either directly from asbestos jobsites or indirectly through second-hand exposure can be at risk for inhaling harmful mesothelioma cancer causing fibers. A person diagnosed with Asbestosis has most likely breathed in loose asbestos particles from the air resulting in scar tissue formation inside the lungs. An Abestosis diagnosis generally requires a physical exam from mesothelioma doctors who use diagnostic tests like x-rays and breathing tests.
Asbestosis and the Inflammatory Process
If inhaled, asbestos fibers can become trapped within the alveoli, the tiny sacs inside lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. The immune system will work to remove the asbestos fibers from the lungs, sparking an inflammatory process.
Pleural Plaques and Pleural Thickening
Asbestos pleural diseases are similar to asbestosis but occur in the pleura, the thin lining between the lungs and chest wall. Diffuse scarring extending along the chest wall is known as pleural thickening. More well-defined scarring is known as pleural plaques.
Both asbestos pleural thickening and pleural plaques can result in the shortness of breath and impair lung function in an individual. The diseases are permanent, progressive, and have no cure. The scarring within the pleura is often seen in conjunction with asbestosis, making it important for workers to share their work history and receive routine check ups with their doctors.
Who is at Risk for Asbestosis?
Insulators and shipyard workers are just two examples of workers who are at risk for an asbestosis diagnosis in their lifetime. In fact, in the 1990's, shipbuilding and repair was the second highest industry specified on death certificates of adult asbestosis victims in the United States.Along with these occupations, there are many other workers in different blue collar trades that have been or are exposed to asbestos for prolonged periods of time. See the High-Risk Occupations page on our website to read more about workers at risk for an asbestosis diagnosis.
Asbestos related Mesothelioma stages and occupational exposure risks