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Asbestos Exposure: Symptoms & Treatment

Asbestos Exposure: Symptoms & Treatment
Kevin Cleary

Key Takeaways:

  • Asbestos exposure is the top cause of work-related deaths worldwide.
  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous silicate mineral and is a term for six minerals that form heat-resistant fibers.
  • It’s been used in construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant.
  • Asbestos exposure raises your chances of getting lung diseases.
  • The greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the risk of developing lung or respiratory diseases, and HPFY has all your respiratory needs.


Found in rocks and soil, this naturally occurring mineral fiber is used in a variety of construction materials, including floor tiles, roofing shingles, and automotive parts, including brake and clutch components. It wasn’t until 1898, in the Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops in the UK, that the dangers of asbestos came to light. Exposure to asbestos can lead to asbestosis, which is a chronic respiratory disease. No treatment can reverse any damage caused by asbestos. Avoiding further exposure and bad habits such as smoking is a good first step, and HPFY has everything you need for respiratory therapy.

Asbestos Exposure and Its Risks

For those in the construction industry, exposure to asbestos causes chronic lung issues such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. These are chronic lung diseases that are caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. These fibers lodge into the lining of the lungs, causing scarring and shortness of breath. Most people who have developed asbestosis/mesothelioma contracted it prior to the 1970s before the government began regulating these products. Unfortunately, symptoms of asbestosis typically don’t appear until years or decades after exposure and include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent, dry cough
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Drive/crackling sounds when you inhale
  • Clubbing of fingers (fingertips/toes appear wider and rounder than normal)

Asbestos Exposure symptoms can vary in severity depending on how much asbestos exposure was experienced. It’s the release of tiny particles of asbestos that get lodged in the lungs, causing various health issues. Asbestos exposure can cause:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis
  • Cancer of the larynx, ovaries, or lungs

Who’s at Risk

People who work in certain industries are at the highest risk of asbestos exposure. In the United States, those working in the construction field have the highest level of exposure to asbestos. These jobs can include:

  • Miners
  • Insulation workers
  • Asbestos abatement workers
  • Custodians
  • Pipefitters

The United States has phased out products that use asbestos since 1989. The government has also enacted a partial ban on importing products or distribution of certain asbestos products.

Asbestosis Treatments

Unfortunately, there is no cure for asbestosis or mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. There are treatments available that can help manage this condition. When treating either asbestosis or mesothelioma, the goal is to manage symptoms and preserve lung function as best as possible. Any treatment can’t reverse damage due to asbestos exposure but possibly can relieve symptoms, treat any complications, and slow the progression. Some treatments available are:

  • Oxygen therapy: This involves using oxygen therapy via a mask or nasal cannula to aid breathing.
  • Pulmonary rehab: Exercises and behavioral changes can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Lung transplant: In rare cases, a new, healthy set of lungs can relieve symptoms and prolong life.
  • Medications: Certain medications, known as anti-fibrotics, can slow down the rate of scarring in the lungs before it gets worse but can’t reverse any existing damage.

Beyond these options, there are other lifestyle changes you can adapt to improve your quality of life if you have been diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma. Try to avoid smoking or try to quit since smoking speeds up the progression of the disease. Avoiding polluted air or secondhand smoke can help, as can eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water. An exercise program is great as long as your doctor signs off on it.

Products That Can Help Manage Asbestos Exposure


When to Seek Medical Attention

Anyone who thinks they have been exposed to asbestos or its fibers and is experiencing respiratory symptoms should see their doctor. There is no safe form of asbestos, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies all forms of asbestos as a carcinogen. Be sure to consult your physician before starting any exercise program to ensure it’s right for you.



Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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