Asbestosis is a breathing disorder caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Prolonged accumulation of these fibers in your lungs can cause scarring of lung tissue and shortness of breath. Persistent dry cough is commonly reported as the first symptom of asbestosis. Chest tightness, pain or both are not uncommon. Asbestosis symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may be caused by acute asbestos-associated pleural reactions. It is not cancerous like Mesothelioma, however damage to the lungs is often permanent. Asbestosis may also lead to lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Asbestosis often exists without any symptoms, and is found only by x-ray findings. The symptoms that do exist typically are often mistaken to have other causes. As the disease progresses, the symptoms can worsen. Asbestosis can be a progressive disease, meaning that it continues to develop even after exposure to asbestos has stopped. Though unusual asbestosis can also be fatal.
Some asbestosis symptoms include:
Shortness of breath, initially only with exertion, but eventually even while resting
Decreased tolerance for physical activity
Finger deformity (clubbing of fingers and/or toes) in some cases
Basal crackles are fine, crisp persistent sounds, which can often be heard first over axillary and basal regions and then more generally as the disease advances, and also can alert a medical professional to the signs of asbestosis. Other sounds include coarse crackles and rhonchi, reflect airway disease that may be associated with smoking or airway constriction due to multiple causes such as dust in the occupational environment, but may also be detected in a patient who has asbestosis.
Since symptoms of asbestosis usually appear 15-30 years after asbestos exposure, it is usually detected after the patient develops damage and scarring caused by the asbestos fibers, which then lead to stiffness in the lung tissue causing the lungs to stop contracting and expanding normally (a form of pulmonary fibrosis).
Late manifestations include respiratory and circulatory failure, and these along with the detection of cancer, are common causes of death.