Asbestosis & Mesothelioma: What's Common Between Them?

Asbestosis & Mesothelioma: While knowing about the facts related to asbestos, (like how it can be dangerous to human beings), it is equally important to gain knowledge about asbestosis. It's because both these ailments are caused due to the asbestos exposure.

asbestos exposure

Today, there are a number of illnesses associated with the exposure of asbestos. You might have heard about mesothelioma which is often referred to be the most common illness.

Even though, the above statement is true, you can't say that it is the only disease which is associated with the asbestos.

For example, when a person comes in touch with this naturally occurring carcinogenic mineral, the most common way he or she invites the complication is when asbestos fibers get mixed in the atmosphere and reach to the person's respiratory system through inhalation.

After these small spindles of asbestos become successful in reaching the respiratory system, they often get attached themselves on to the air sacs of lungs.

These fibers will continue to remain there and over the time tend to scratch, irritate and damage the area.

This may result in the onset of symptoms where the person may complain of breathing issues or chest pain. Please note that asbestosis is not a cancer but those who develop mesothelioma over time may first have had asbestosis.

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Are Asbestosis & Mesothelioma Same?

First you need to make sure what asbestos is and how it can prove disastrous. Please note that asbestos is basically a group of 6 or more minerals that are naturally found naturally on earth.

It was long back when the use of asbestos happened to be in a number of commercial and residential products mainly due to its properties like fire resistant and high durability. But later, it was proved beyond doubt that it's a carcinogen.

Due to the exposure of asbestos and its related complication, thousands of Americans have to lose their lives every year from any of the asbestos related ailments like mesothelioma and asbestosis. 


What's the Prime Cause of Asbestosis?

Now, the question is what actually causes asbestosis. Like we have seen in many other asbestos related ailments, asbestosis is also among one of them which is caused due to the exposure of asbestos (a naturally occurring mineral).

Before 1980s, nobody knew about the carcinogenic effects of asbestos and therefore it was used heavily in a number of industries mainly due to its fire resistant properties. The use of asbestos was mainly happened in insulation, making fireproof fabrics, construction materials, clutch pads, automobile, piping, roofing, tile flooring and more.

Since the use of asbestos happened in many areas, those who always had a higher risk of developing asbestos related diseases included technicians like construction workers, industrial and first responders, firefighters, navy veterans and blue collar working professionals.

As we have mentioned above, the most common cause of developing any of the asbestos related cancers is due to the exposure of asbestos fibers when they get mixed in the atmosphere. This is when they reach inside the lungs when inhaled or ingested.

Now, these asbestos fibers or spindles are attached to the air sacs of the lungs or the alveoli. Over the time, these spindles become the cause of stiffening and scratching of the lungs. Over the time, both of these affect the optimum lung capacity or functioning.

Both mesothelioma and asbestosis behave in a more or less the same way. For example, both of them have a latency period up to 40 years. In short, this time can be between 10-40 years. If this can be detected at an early stage, it can really improve the overall asbestosis prognosis.

Here, it is recommended that you have a word with a medical practitioner  if you come up with a history of working around asbestos prone areas. This will help your doctor to thoroughly check you and detect any early sign related to developing asbestos related diseases.


Asbestosis Symptoms

After the asbestos spindles get attached to the lung surface, they become the cause of irritation around the area. 

And so, it becomes difficult for the lungs to constantly get the fresh air. Please note that the most common symptoms that arise due to asbestosis include shortness of breath and chronic cough.

Take a look at some more symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • A crackling sound in the lungs when inhaling


Treating & Diagnosing Asbestosis

It's your responsibility to constantly be in touch with your doctor and discuss anything to everything in connection with your working history, if it matches with the asbestos prone areas.

It's been advised you to see your medical practitioner if you come up with any related symptoms given above. Your doctor will then refer you to a specialist who have the specialization in the respiratory system and lungs).

The first step that a pulmonologist will take is that he will start with your physical analysis which will include a proper analysis of your lungs and breathing system. In order to come to a conclusion, he will have to write some tests like CT scan or a chest x-ray along with a lung function test.

Your doctor may also ask you to undergo a biopsy so as to better examine the underlying lung tissue for any sort of abnormality due to asbestos fibers. But this is not most common while detecting the cause of asbestosis.

As there is no cure for asbestosis but the symptoms can be minimized or controlled. For example, when you start consulting with your pulmonologist, he may prescribe you an inhaler to help you rectify chest congestion issues. The inhaler can also help you in some other symptoms like lung wheezing or tightness.

Likewise, you may also be given supplemental oxygen to not only improve your breathing oxygen (oxygen saturation or O2 sats) but also get relief in difficulty breathing.

There are cases when a patient is asked to undergo surgery or have the lung transplant so as to remove the affected lung tissue.

In order to get better results, doctors also suggest patients to participate in various PR (Pulmonary Rehabilitation) programs. 

They are basically designed to improve the overall lung function and also to minimize the risks and symptoms. This may also help them to make their breathing easier, especially in the presence of a chromic lung ailment.

During PRs, patients have to work along with a team of therapists that may include a respiratory therapist. He will determine the program needed on individual basis.

In customized PR plan, respiratory therapists often suggest a proper die plan, Exercises and other breathing techniques.

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Ways to Minimize Asbestosis Symptoms Effectively                                                

Even if a person has unfortunately got asbestosis, there are many ways the person can lead to a high quality lifestyle. He doesn't need anything much but to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Please note that exercising and to remain hydrated benefit a lot. This generally improves the overall lung function and also helps to keep your body work properly. At this time, you don't need to forget the importance of sleep which gives some great results, especially when your body needs it.

Some other ways to minimize symptoms include washing your hands. Also, it is advised to avoid huge crowds as it may also become the cause of the possible infection.

Your doctor may also recommend you to get vaccinated for flu and pneumonia. So, be focused and avoid any sort of pollution, second hand smoke and contaminated air to make your lungs function adequately.

In case you are a smoker, your doctor will strictly suggest you to quit the habit of smoking on an immediate basis.


Is Asbestosis A Form of Cancer?

Please note that asbestosis is not a cancer and is nowhere related to lower down the life expectancy. But the above ailment may become a precursor to mesothelioma. It may also become the cause for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Both of the above ailments generally get worsen with smoking. If you go by what studies have to say, then people (having history of asbestos exposure) who have stopped smoking dramatically reduced their risks of developing other serious ailment like lung cancer.

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What's the Major Difference Between Asbestosis And Mesothelioma?

The entire thing comes due to the exposure of asbestos which becomes the root cause of developing mesothelioma and asbestosis. As mentioned above, both asbestosis and mesothelioma have long latency periods and affect the working of the overall respiratory system.

Now, it's interesting to see how both these diseases develop. Please note that asbestosis mainly develops due to the asbestos fibers get stuck in the air sacs of lungs. On the other hand, mesothelioma is mainly caused by asbestos fibers lodging to the inner lining of the chest and abdominal cavity (the mesothelium).


Asbestosis Legal Claims

Most of the victims who are diagnosed mesothelioma or asbestosis have a history of long term asbestos exposure. This generally happens unknowingly and mainly due to the negligence of the employer.

And sue to such patients who have got either asbestosis or mesothelioma are generally entitled to get a legal and financial compensation.

In order to help such victims, there are loads of asbestos trusts that are there to compensate them.





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