Pulmonary Fibrosis from Asbestos Exposure
Lung tissue is delicate and spongy, allowing it to expand and contract as it absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. However, just like skin scars are harder and less flexible than regular skin, lung scars are also stiffer and thicker than undamaged lung tissue. When lung tissue becomes damaged, the scarring can make it difficult for you to breathe. This is called pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary fibrosis results in progressive thickening of your lung tissue that hardens the tiny alveoli, or air sacs, where the gas exchange with the bloodstream takes place. Thus, it becomes more and more difficult for you to absorb the oxygen that you need.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis
As your lungs suffer from increasing damage, you can experience debilitating symptoms such as:
- A dry, inexplicable cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Muscle and joint pain
- Unintentional weight loss
How Asbestos Affects Your Lungs
Although doctors and researchers are not sure of the exact process that leads to lung scarring, they do know that asbestos fibers can damage your lungs and lead to pulmonary fibrosis. This is because your body cannot degrade asbestos particles and flush them out of your system. Instead, when you inhale these microscopic fibers, they can become permanently lodged in your lungs.
Over time, your body forms nodules of tissue around the particles which can turn into hard scar tissue or even cancerous tumors.
For More Information
Although pulmonary fibrosis cannot be cured, some medications can slow the progression of the disease if it is caught quickly. If you have been exposed to asbestos, you should talk to your doctor immediately about any exams that you can undergo to test for asbestos-related lung damage. For more information regarding asbestos and lung damage, contact the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Help Center today by filling out the contact form at the top of this page.