At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Asbestosis is a condition, which may, but doesn’t always result from repeated exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of this condition usually manifest years after exposure has occurred, and principally are a reflection of damage in the lungs, or what is called pulmonary fibrosis. Impaired breathing, chest pain, lowered exercise tolerance, and significant coughing are primary symptoms. The illness can’t be cured, but a number of medical interventions can halt its progression and offer some symptom relief, and asbestosis treatment may include a variety of medications, some medical procedures, medical counseling and potentially surgery.
Medications are a large part of asbestosis treatment. Some of these may include inhaled steroids or bronchodilators (like albuterol) that help to improve breathing. Other common medication types are various forms of cough syrup, which can assist in improving difficult coughing. In some instances doctors may prescribe antibiotics on a regular basis to prevent infection, or they might prescribe these only when lung or bronchial infections occur. People might also take different types of over the counter pain relievers to reduce chest discomfort. It’s also highly recommended people get vaccinations like yearly flu shots to prevent complications that could occur from this disease.
Sometimes asbestosis treatment may be more aggressive when lung secretions are significant. It could be necessary to remove secretions from the lungs by aspirating fluid from the lungs. This usually involves a hospital stay of a day or two at least, but can be useful in lowering chest discomfort and improving ability to breathe. Those with severe lung impairment due to this condition might require more assistance in the home setting too, and some people will need oxygen support at home.
Another important aspect of asbestosis treatment is patient counseling and follow-up. Patients who smoke are advised to quit immediately since they dramatically heighten risk for developing lung cancer. Counseling on when to get needed vaccinations might be given too.
In rare instances, asbestosis causes such significant lung damage that transplant is viewed as a good asbestosis treatment option. Lung transplant is still a challenging procedure, with a fairly high rejection rate. Transplant technology does continues to improve and survival rates on transplants have continued to climb.
With a combination of medication, counseling to change lifestyle choices, and preventative steps like immunizations, there are certainly ways to halt the progress of asbestosis. People are still at elevated risk for developing lung cancer, and treatments can’t always prevent that. What is encouraging is that in places like the US new safety protocol makes it unlikely that more people will have significant asbestos exposure today. This is likely to minimize the chances of others developing this disease in the future.