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Asbestosis Symptoms and Treatment

Asbestosis Symptoms and Treatment

The primary symptom of asbestosis is generally the slow onset of shortness of breath on exertion. In severe, advanced cases, this may lead to respiratory failure. Coughing is not usually a typical symptom, unless the patient has other, concomitant respiratory tract diseases.

People with extensive occupational exposure to the mining, manufacturing, handling or removal of asbestos are at risk of developing asbestosis. There is also an increased risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestosis and lung cancer require prolonged exposure to asbestos. However, cases of mesothelioma have been documented with even 1-3 months of exposure, and only indirect exposure (through air ventilation system.) Most cases of asbestosis do not become apparent until 5-10 years after the initial exposure to the material.


There is no curative treatment. Oxygen therapy at home is often necessary to relieve the shortness of breath. Supportive treatment of symptoms includes respiratory physiotherapy to remove secretions from the lungs by postural drainage, chest percussion, and vibration. Nebulized medications may be prescribed in order to dilute secretions.

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