Asbestosis – Asbestosis Symptoms, Treatment, and Compensation
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease which develops after you have been exposed to substantial quantities of asbestos dust, usually over long periods of time. Most people who develop the disease have been exposed to asbestos in their jobs for many years.
Sadly, there is currently no cure for asbestosis. If you have asbestosis, this means that your lungs are scarred. By inhaling asbestos dust over time, the fibres gradually damage your lungs. The slow growth of scar tissue snakes across your lungs and stops them from expanding and contracting normally. This can cause a wide range of symptoms. Asbestosis symptoms can be life-changing, but there are a range of treatments available to help manage these.
The symptoms of asbestosis normally affect your breathing and respiratory system. For example, if you are diagnosed with asbestosis you may experience:
- Persistent coughing;
- Chest pain;
- Blood in the sputum/mucus;
- Swelling in the neck or face;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Loss of appetite;
- Weight loss;
- Nail deformities;
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue).
Many asbestosis symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other malignant diseases such as mesothelioma (an asbestos related cancer) and lung cancer. Therefore, it is important that you consult a doctor as soon as possible to rule these out.
Unfortunately, your asbestosis symptoms may get worse over time. As your lungs become scarred and irritated, they become less able to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Worsening scarring also stops your lungs from expanding and contracting properly.
Over time, serious stress can be placed on your heart and lungs because they are not receiving sufficient amounts of oxygen. This stress can cause your blood pressure to increase, and fluid to build up around your heart and lungs. In turn, this can lead to swelling in your neck and face which can make it difficult for you to swallow.
Whilst there is no cure for asbestosis, thankfully, many of the symptoms can be relieved.
Asbestosis Treatments – Relieving asbestosis symptoms
Unfortunately, asbestosis cannot be cured because it is impossible to repair scarred lung tissue. However, there are a number of palliative treatments that can significantly improve your quality of life.
Treatments for asbestosis:
Doctors may prescribe a number of medicines to help relieve your symptoms. Whilst they are more regularly used by asthma sufferers, inhalers can relax the muscles in your airways, and provide an element of pain relief.
You may also be prescribed medication which thins the secretions in your lungs. This can open up your airways and allow you to breathe more easily.
Furthermore, you could be prescribed antibiotics to ease your pain and prevent possible infection.
Supplemental oxygen may also be considered as an option, because it can help you to breathe by allowing more oxygen into your lungs.
If you have asbestosis, you are more likely to suffer with lung infections. Vaccinations against influenza and pneumonia can help prevent these infections taking hold, giving you a better quality of life.
In some cases, doctors may recommend surgery to treat asbestosis. The goal of asbestosis surgery is often palliative and designed to reduce your pain and relieve other symptoms. For example, a doctor may recommend surgery to drain excess fluid from your lungs, which will make it easier for you to breathe.
If your asbestosis is severe, your body may not receive all of the oxygen it needs to function effectively. In these cases, an oxygen concentrator can provide oxygen therapy. Your doctor may recommend this treatment when you have low-levels of oxygen in your blood.
Smoking makes the symptoms of breathlessness worse. Therefore, doctors will advise you to give up smoking immediately. As well as reducing your symptoms, quitting smoking will significantly reduce your risk of developing lung cancer. As someone with asbestosis, you have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, so you should do everything you can to reduce this. Lung cancer often has a much worse prognosis than asbestosis. You may want to visit the NHS SmokeFree website for support by clicking here.
Importantly, asbestosis is not a form of cancer. Therefore, unlike mesothelioma, the prognosis for asbestosis can be relatively positive. Sufferers of the disease can live for years, and even decades in some cases because the condition normally progresses slowly.
However, it is important that you consider that asbestosis is a chronic condition which will worsen over time. As you age, you are likely to require more treatment.
You will have a more positive prognosis if you have a mild form of the disease. In these cases, you may also require less treatment. For example, you could receive treatments such as postural drainage and chest percussion, which can improve your breathing by loosening the build-up of mucus around your lungs.
If you have a more severe form of the disease, you will require more intense treatment.
Asbestosis itself is non-malignant and therefore, does not often prove to be directly fatal. However, the secondary conditions it can cause can prove to be fatal. For example, the heart must work harder to push blood through damaged lungs and this can lead to heart failure, while reduced lung capacity can lead to congestive heart failure.
Your age, race, gender and lifestyle all have an impact on how long you are likely to live with asbestosis. Overall, it is difficult to estimate how long an individual person will live, as each case is unique.
It is important to remember that, although the disease is incurable, patients are still able to live for many years with the help of medication and treatments.
If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, we may be able to help you claim compensation. We can also give you advice about other financial help.
We help people every year claim the compensation they deserve by pursuing successful, civil compensation claims. In a civil compensation claim you claim compensation from the company who exposed you to asbestos. This is often an ex-employer. You are often able to claim compensation even if the company no longer trades. This is because we make the asbestos claim against the insurance that your employer had when you were exposed.
You will often get much more money through a civil asbestos compensation claim than you would receive through governmental compensation schemes or benefits.
How can we help?
If you would like to discuss your circumstances with us and find out if you can claim compensation please contact us for free today on 0800 038 6767. We offer free advice and our friendly specialist asbestos disease solicitors will be happy to take your call. You can also contact us through our livechat below, or by filling in our contact form.