Asbestosis - Overview
Pulmonary fibrosis - from asbestos exposure; Interstitial pneumonitis - from asbestos exposure
Definition of Asbestosis:
Asbestosis is a lung disease that occurs from breathing in asbestos fibers.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
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 occured 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.
- Reviewed last on: 6/10/2011
- 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.
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.
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