The Symptoms of Asbestosis

The symptoms of asbestosis generally begin to appear from 10 to 20 years after asbestos exposure. The two most significant symptoms of asbestosis are shortness of breath and persistent cough spasms that produce expectorant. But shortness of breath is the earliest symptom and the most commonly reported. In the early stages of the disease, the patient usually experiences shortness of breath only after exerting a heavy effort; however, as asbestosis worsens, the shortness of breath gets worse and occurs with only a minimal amount of exertion.

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The Difficulty in Diagnosing Asbestosis

The symptoms of asbestosis are not disease specific, making it difficult to diagnose. Other non-specific symptoms of the disease include:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Chest pain
  • Insomnia
  • A loss of appetite
  • Coughing up blood

Asbestosis is a chronic progressive disease that is not curable, but treatment can alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. The progression of the disease is slow so even though diagnosing asbestosis can be difficult, the disease has typically not progressed severely by the time a diagnosis is made.

Asbestosis Treatments Can Bring Relief

Bronchodilators (drugs that open up the bronchial tubes and permit better air flow) are typically prescribed to treat shortness of breath. The drug can be administered with a nebulizer, an inhalation aerosol, injection or oral medication. Chest pain can be treated with routine over the counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).

Sometimes asbestosis sufferers require supplemental oxygen or treatments to loosen secretions in the lungs. These include:

  • Humidifier treatments
  • Chest percussion
  • Inflatable vest treatments or vibration (alternatives to manual chest percussion)

Asbestosis Can Result from Exposure to Silicate in Other Forms

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate, a mineral primarily composed of silicon and oxygen. However, asbestos is not the only way a worker can be exposed to silicate and develop asbestosis. A Florida man

In a report tiled Pneumoconiosis in a vermiculite end-product user published August 2003 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Thomas Peter Howard of the Brevard VA Clinic in Viera, Florida outlined the details of a case of an 82-year-old man who presented with progressive shortness of breath after exertion.

The evidence strongly supported a diagnosis of asbestosis, but the man’s only significant silicate exposure was to silicate contained in vermiculite that he used in the workplace for several hours daily from 1970 to 1987. This, together with similar findings in a vermiculite expansion plant worker, led Howard to conclude that further investigation was needed to examine the role of vermiculate exposure in asbestosis.

Asbestos exposure can cause numerous chronic health conditions that devastate people and families, including asbestosis. If you have been exposed to asbestos or silicate in other forms on the job, contact our experienced Florida asbestosis lawyers for a free consultation.