Asbestosis is a scarring or fibrosis, of the lungs. This typically work-related condition is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. Heavy exposure, such as breathing in huge amounts of asbestos dust following accidents at work, for example, can also cause this condition.
It can take between 10 and 20 years after such work accidents before asbestosis is diagnosed. The condition progresses at a slow pace and may cause severe breathlessness.
Once it reaches a certain level, it tends to remain there without further deterioration, and many people suffering from this industrial disease live with it for the rest of their lives.
Asbestosis is not a fatal work-related condition in itself, but sufferers have a 10 per cent chance of subsequently developing Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure at work. There is also a 20 to 50 per cent chance of developing lung cancer, which is further enhanced by smoking.
Symptoms of asbestosis
Symptoms vary depending on how severely a sufferer is affected by this work injury, but typically include:
- Chest pains
- Reduced mobility/ exercise capacity
- Shortness of breath
There are many other conditions with similar symptoms. These include, among others, Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitisor Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is also referred to as bird fanciers lung); Rheumatoid Disease or Carcoidosis. This, of course, can make it difficult to correctly diagnose this work-related disease.
More often than not, sufferers will repeatedly need medical attention for breathlessness and chest infections for many years. Eventually, their doctor will refer them for further tests. This typically involves a discussion of the patient’s work history, potential work accidents involving exposure to asbestos, and so on. Tests often begin with chest x-rays or CT scans, which may reveal presence of asbestosis. Other tests may include:
- Air flow measurements (Spirometry)
- Pulmonary function tests (complex breathing tests which measure lung volumes and gas transfers)
Once the condition has been diagnosed, the sufferer is transerred to the hospital’s chest clinic. Here, the diagnosis of this work injury by asbestos exposure will be explained and measures of symptom control will be discussed.
Claiming for industrial injury by asbestos exposure
If you were diagnosed with asbestosis during the last three years, you may be able to claim compensation.
Call Accident Advice Helpline to find out if you qualify for an industrial injury claim.
Available 24/7, calls are free and advisers will treat your call confidentially and without obligation to proceed with a compensation claim.