Asbestosis - Dream Health

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Saturday, 22 November 2014


Asbestosis – Lung Tissue Scarring 

Asbestosis is a process of lung tissue scarring which is caused by prolonged exposures to asbestos fibres. Asbestos is a term for a group of minerals which are made of microscopic fibres and in the past was extensively used in construction.

Patients with x-ray findings or biopsy results could also have remote history of asbestos exposure and delayed development of this condition. Smoking too could increase the frequency or the rate of progress of asbestosis by preventing the efficient elimination of inhaled fibres through the airways. Asbestos could be very dangerous though not considered as a health hazard if undisturbed.

However if the material with asbestos is drilled, broken, chipped or allowed to deteriorate, it could give out some fine dust containing asbestos fibres and when the same is breathed in, it could enter the lungs and gradually cause damage over a period of time.

Breathing in the asbestos fibres could scar the lungs with a number of symptoms like shortness of breath which may take place after physical activity in the initial stage and eventually tends to be a constant problem. A person may suffer from persistent cough, wheezing, extreme tiredness, chest pain, and in more advantaged situations, clubbed or swollen fingertips.

PFT/Exercise Test/CT Scan

Exposure to Asbestos is divided into three forms, namely asbestosis – lung scarring due to asbestos fibres, disease of the lining of the lung – pleural plaques, scarring or fluid accumulation and lung cancer. Cancer of the lining of the lung due to asbestos exposure is Mesothelioma while cancer of the larynx, throat, kidney, oesophagus and gallbladder is linked to asbestos exposure which is treated based on the kind of condition of asbestosis.

The abnormalities in breathing can be identified with function test like pulmonary function tests – PFT or exercise test which is performed at specialized laboratories since asbestosis could obstruct the airflow and restriction of lung inflation.

Besides, this condition could also affect the ability of transferring oxygen to the blood. In advanced cases, the person could have reduced blood oxygen and would be in needof supplementary oxygen. The abnormalities in the x-ray include thickening of the lining of the lungs with tiny lines marking the lower portions of the lungs. CT scans could be very helpful in separating asbestosis from other conditions which may have similar reports but even a CT scan may not identify the disease of lining of the lung- pleural disease in people with asbestosis.

Biopsy & Microscopic Examination

At times a biopsy and microscopic examination of the lung could help in diagnosing asbestosis where under microscopic examination; some coated fibres are seen with pattern of scarring. The content of coated as well as uncoated asbestos is linked to the severity of this disease and since other particles could resemble asbestos, a clear identification would require scanning electron microscopy.

 Presently, to detect asbestos fibres in the lung tissues and fluid, secretion or sputum could be used to diagnose together with the history of asbestos exposure as well as the characteristic x-ray or the results of the CT.

Since there is not cure for asbestosis once it has progressed and the damage has already been caused to the lungs, it is most important to quit smoking if the person has a tendency to smoke to prevent further damage to the lungs and smoking could also increase the chances of lung cancer to the person with this ailment. Some treatment like oxygen therapy could bring about some improvement and quality of life to these patients.

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