Asbestosis – Symptoms, causes and other associated risk factors


Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease. This disease is caused when the asbestos fibers are inhaled. If they are not treated in their early stage, then they can cause you shortness of breath and tissue scarring. There are many symptoms of this disease. In some cases patients can have just few symptoms, while in other cases patients are suffering from many symptoms. Usually these symptoms are happening after many years of the first time they have appeared. Asbestos is a natural mineral product. This natural mineral product is resistant to corrosion and heat. In the past this product has been used in products such as cement, floor tiles and insulation. Many of the people who are suffering from asbestosis have got this disease from their jobs. This was reason for the federal government to regulate the use of asbestosis products. Every employer must regulate the health of its employees. Because if the employers are not regulating the health of their workers, then this will grow in huge problem. Most of the treatments for asbestosis are used to relief the signs and symptoms of asbestosis. [1,2]

Asbestosis Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms: You will start noticing the signs and symptoms of the asbestosis after 10-40 years after its initial exposure. These signs and symptoms can include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Dry cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in your chest
  • Dry cough win long period
  • Lose of your weight
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fingertips and toes are rounder and wider than the normal fingertips and toes

When to see a doctor? If you have some of the signs and symptoms listed above, then you must visit your doctor. The most common symptom in the most cases of asbestosis is shortness of breath. Your doctor will refer you to a doctor which is specialized in lung problems. Your doctor may ask you these questions:

  • What kind of symptoms do you feel?
  • How long are you having your symptoms?
  • What have you worked in your past?
  • Give short brief for your types of jobs?
  • Have you worked in the building projects?
  • Are you a smoker?
  • How long are you smoking?
  • What kind of medicines have you taken?
  • Have you taken some home remedies for your symptoms?asbestosisIf you have made chest X-rays in the past, then you should bring these copies to your doctor because he or she will want to compare with the present chest X-rays. When your doctor will make you physical exam, he or she will use stethoscope. With this test he or she will listen to your lungs to be sure if you are making a crackling sound while inhaling. The best way to prevent from this disease is to reduce your exposure to asbestos. In many countries worldwide there are laws which are ensuring employers in the building that they will be safe. If you are smoker, then you are increasing the chances to get this disease. You should quit smoking. This will help you to reduce the risk of getting lung disease. Also you should take vaccines against pneumonia and flu which in the most cases are reason for lung infections and asbestosis.

Causes of asbestosis

When you are exposed to high levels of asbestos during long period, then your airborne fibers can become lodged with your alveoli. This will irritate your lungs which will make them stiff. Then, you cannot breathe properly. As this disease is growing, your lung tissues will become scarred. Because your lung tissue is stiff it cannot contract and expand properly. If you are smoker, then you are making increased chances to get this disease. Cigarettes are increasing the retention of asbestos fibers in the lungs which can result with faster progression of asbestosis. [3]

Risk factors: These types of jobs will make increased chances to get this disease:

  • Boiler operators [4]
  • Electricians [5]
  • Auto mechanics [6]
  • Aircraft mechanics [6]
  • Railroad workers [7]
  • Asbestos miners
  • Building construction workers [8]
  • Workers which are removing the asbestos insulation around steam pipes in the older buildings

Most of the materials in our homes are made from asbestos. When these materials are not damaged, there is no reason to be afraid of it. But when these materials are damaged, then there is a chance to spread the asbestos in the air. In the most cases asbestosis is occurring after long period of exposure to asbestos fiber.


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worker health study summaries: Research on long-term exposure. 1998. Retrieved from

[2] Kang D, Myung MS, Kim YK, Kim JE. Systematic review of the effects of asbestos exposure on the risk of cancer between children and adults. Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2013;25:10.

[3] American Thoracic Society (ATS). Asbestos exposure, asbestosis, and smoking combined greatly increase lung cancer risk. Science Daily. 2013.

[4] Im S, Youn K, Shin D, et al. Review of carcinogenicity of asbestos and proposal of approval standards of an occupational cancer caused by asbestos in Korea. Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2015;27:34.

[5] Goodman JE, Peterson MK, Bailey LA, et al. Electricians’ chrysotile asbestos exposure from electrical products and risks of mesothelioma and lung cancer. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2013;68(1).

[6] Ameille J, Rosenberg N, Matrat M, et al. Asbestos-related diseases in automobile mechanics. Annals of Occupational Hygiene. 2012;56(1):55–60.

[7] Oliver C, Eisen EA, Greene RE, Sprince NL. Asbestos-related disease in railroad workers: A cross-sectional study. American Review of Respiratory Disease. 1984;131(4).

[8] Walters GI, Robertson AS, Bhomra PS, Burge PS. Asbestosis is prevalent in a variety of construction industry trades. NPJ Primary Care Respiratory Medicine – Nature. 2018;28:11.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.