St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Asbestosis

    Pulmonary fibrosis - from asbestos exposure; Interstitial pneumonitis - from asbestos exposure

    Asbestosis is a lung disease that occurs from breathing in asbestos fibers.

    Causes

    Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause scar tissue (fibrosis) to form inside the lung. Scarred lung tissue does not expand and contract normally.

    How severe the disease is depends on how long the person was exposed to asbestos and the amount he or she breathed in. Often, people do not notice symptoms for 20 years or more after the asbestos exposure.

    Asbestos fibers were commonly used in construction before 1975. Asbestos exposure occurred in asbestos mining and milling, construction, fireproofing, and other industries. Families of asbestos workers can also be exposed from particles brought home on the worker's clothing.

    Other asbestos-related diseases include:

    • Pleural plaques (calcification)
    • Malignant mesothelioma -- can develop 20-40 years after exposure
    • Pleural effusion -- a collection that develops around the lung a few years after asbestos exposure

    Workers today are less likely to get asbestos-related diseases because of government regulations.

    Cigarette smoking increases the risk of getting asbestos-related diseases.

    Symptoms

    • Chest pain
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath with exertion (slowly gets worse over time)
    • Tightness in the chest

    Possible other symptoms include:

    • Clubbing of fingers
    • Nail abnormalities

    Exams and Tests

    When listening to the chest with a stethoscope (auscultation), the doctor may hear a crackling sound called rales.

    These tests may help diagnose the disease:

    • Chest x-ray
    • CT scan of the lungs
    • Gallium lung scan
    • Pulmonary function tests

    Treatment

    There is no cure. Stopping exposure to asbestos is essential. To ease symptoms, drainage, chest percussion, and vibration can help remove fluids from the lungs.

    The doctor may prescribe aerosol medications to thin lung fluids. People with this condition may need to receive oxygen by mask or by a plastic piece that fits into the nostrils. Certain patients may need a lung transplant.

    Support Groups

    You can ease the stress of this illness by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems. See lung disease - support group.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    The outcome depends on the amount of asbestos you were exposed to, and for how long. This condition tends to get worse more slowly than idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis if you stop being exposed to asbestos.

    Patients who develop malignant mesothelioma tend t ohave a poor outcome. About 75% of those who are affected die within 1 year.

    Possible Complications

    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Lung cancer
    • Malignant mesothelioma
    • Pleural effusion
    • Pleural plaques

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you suspect that you've been exposed to asbestos or if you have unexplained symptoms.

    Prevention

    In people who have been exposed to asbestos for more than 10 years, screening with a chest x-ray every 3 to 5 years may detect asbestos-related diseases early. Stopping cigarette smoking can dramatically reduce the risk of asbestos-related lung cancer.

    References

    Cowie RL, Murray J, Becklake MR. Pneumoconioses. In: Mason RJ, Murray JF, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa : Saunders Elsevier; 2010: chap 65.

    Samet JM. Occupational pulmonary disorders. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 93.

    BACK TO TOP

    • Respiratory system

      illustration

      • Respiratory system

        illustration

      Tests for Asbestosis

        Review Date: 6/10/2011

        Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Ccare, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
        adam.com

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


        Back  |  Top
        About Us
        Contact Us
        History
        Mission
        Locations & Directions
        Quality Reports
        Annual Reports
        Honors & Awards
        Community Health Needs
        Assessment

        Newsroom
        Services
        Brain & Spine
        Cancer
        Heart
        Maternity
        Orthopedics
        Pulmonary
        Sleep Medicine
        Urgent Care
        Women's Services
        All Services
        Patients & Visitors
        Locations & Directions
        Find a Physician
        Tour St. Luke's
        Patient & Visitor Information
        Contact Us
        Payment Options
        Financial Assistance
        Send a Card
        Mammogram Appointments
        Health Tools
        My Personal Health
        mystlukes
        Spirit of Women
        Health Information & Tools
        Clinical Trials
        Health Risk Assessments
        Employer Programs -
        Passport to Wellness

        Classes & Events
        Classes & Events
        Spirit of Women
        Donate & Volunteer
        Giving Opportunities
        Volunteer
        Physicians & Employees
        For Physicians
        Remote Access
        Medical Residency Information
        Pharmacy Residency Information
        Physician CPOE Training
        Careers
        Careers
        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
        Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile