What is asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a long-term lung condition caused by breathing in asbestos fibres. Asbestosis causes scarring of the lungs. It is a type of interstitial lung disease (ILD).
Asbestosis usually develops around 20-30 years after breathing in asbestos fibres.
Symptoms of asbestosis
The symptoms of asbestosis are:
- shortness of breath
- a continuous cough
- feeling tired
- chest or shoulder pain
- swollen fingertips (clubbing).
If you know you’ve been exposed to asbestos in the past, and you have symptoms, your GP may refer you to a specialist to confirm if you have asbestosis.
Tests for asbestosis include:
You may also have lung function tests to see how the asbestosis is affecting your breathing.
If you have been diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening, you may be able to claim compensation. Find out more.
Asbestosis is treated by managing the symptoms and ensuring there is no further exposure to asbestos. There is currently no cure for asbestosis.
Treatment for asbestosis can include:
- steroid inhalers to reduce inflammation in the lungs
- oxygen therapy to treat low blood oxygen levels
- pulmonary rehabilitation to help with breathlessness.
If you smoke, one of the most important things you can do is quit. If you have asbestosis and smoke, your symptoms may be worse and you’re at an increased risk of getting lung cancer. We have information to help you quit.
Outlook for asbestosis
The more time you spent breathing in asbestos, the more severe the asbestosis will be.
Asbestosis is a progressive condition, which means it can get worse over time. For many people, it progresses slowly. But for many others, it doesn’t progress at all.
There is a risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer. However, this is more likely if you smoke, have another lung condition, or have problems with your immune system.