Asbestos is a chronic lung disease due to exposure to asbestos or asbestos fibers for a long time. Asbestos is a type of mineral that is usually used by several people for the installation of floors or roofs of buildings. Asbestos which is still in good condition is not harmful to human health.

However, when the abscess is damaged, the material can emit fine dust containing asbestos fibers. Dust containing vulnerable asbestos fibers is inhaled by humans. As a result, the lungs that suck asbestos fibers can be damaged gradually. This condition inhibits breathing and absorption of oxygen in the bloodstream.

Asbestos symptoms

Asbestos symptoms usually only appear for years after asbestos exposure occurs continuously. The following are a number of signs of asbestosis:
  • Chest or shoulder pain.
  • Dry cough continuously.
  • In severe conditions, the fingernails become rounded, widened, or enlarged (clubbing).
  • Eating appetite is reduced which is followed by weight loss.
  • Shortness of breath or tightness.
  • Severe fatigue.
  • Breath sounds loud (wheezing).

Causes of Asbestos

Asbestos is experienced by many workers in the industrial sector, especially in the 1970s and 1990s. Examples of professions at risk of experiencing asbestosis include mining workers, electrical or building installations, mechanics, technicians and rail installation technicians.

Asbestos occurs after a person breathes dust containing asbestos fibers for a long time. Dust with asbestos fibers is trapped in the alveoli (air bag in the lungs) and forms scar tissue so that the lungs become stiff. Rigid lung tissue makes it unable to expand and deflate normally. As a result, sufferers become difficult to breathe. This condition can be more severe if the patient is used to smoking.

Asbestos diagnosis

When a person is suspected of experiencing asbestosis from the symptoms they experience, the doctor will begin a physical examination, especially to see lung function. Scanning through chest X-rays is important. For people with asbestosis, lung tissue will look like a wasp's nest or there is a large white area.

Other tests that can be done are lung function tests with the help of a device called a spirometer. This examination aims to measure the work of the lung organs in breathing, accommodating, or exhaling air. In addition, this test can also be used to measure the amount of oxygen that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Other tests that might also be used to confirm the occurrence of asbestosis are CT scans. This scan can complement the results of chest X-ray examination to see the condition of the lungs more clearly.

Whereas to see the presence of asbestos fibers in the lung tissue, doctors can do a lung biopsy.

Asbestos treatment

Asbestos cannot heal completely, but symptoms can be alleviated and the severity of the disease can be suppressed. Treatment can show good results if supported by efforts to stop smoking or avoid cigarette smoke. Besides being able to cause emphysema, cigarette smoke can reduce the volume of air in the lungs. Asbestosis patients are also usually advised to receive vaccinations, especially flu and pneumonia vaccinations, to reduce the risk of lung infections.

One treatment for Asbestos is through therapy, for example oxygen therapy. This therapy aims to improve the patient's breathing, especially if the blood oxygen level is very low. Oxygen therapy is done by a machine or an oxygen tube that can drain oxygen through a tube placed. Another type of therapy that might be recommended is pulmonary rehabilitation. This therapy includes exercises, discussions, and medical advice that can be applied to reduce the symptoms of asbestosis.

During the treatment period, regular checks are still needed. These tests include pulmonary function tests and chest scanning. The time range of examination depends on the severity of asbestosis.

If the severity of the symptoms of asbestosis is very severe and cannot be treated with the above treatment methods, the patient may be recommended to undergo lung transplant surgery.

Complications of Asbestos

Complications that can be caused by asbestosis include:
  1. Lung cancer.
  2. Mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs, heart, stomach, or testis).
  3. Pleural thickening, which is the layer that wraps the lungs.

Prevention of Asbestos

Reducing asbestos exposure is the best prevention. Workers who work using asbestos materials must use personal protective equipment when exposed to asbestos.

Most houses built before 1970 use materials that contain asbestos such as floors and pipes. No need to worry as long as the material is not damaged, because no asbestos fibers are released into the air.

If you are exposed to asbestos for more than 10 years, you should consult your doctor for chest X-ray and routine checks every three to five years.

Read also "5 Types of Asbestos Cancer Mesothelioma".