Find out what asbestosis is, the symptoms to look out for, how it’s diagnosed and how it’s treated. 

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  
  • wheezing  
  • feeling tired  
  • chest or shoulder pain  
  • swollen fingertips (clubbing).  

Diagnosing asbestosis  

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.

Treating asbestosis

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:

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.

Get support

Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

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