Asbestosis can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can take several decades before showing up.
Also due to the poor record keeping and regulations from the construction industry years ago, it’s hard for people to be able to identify and prove exposure to asbestos.
So how is it possible to correctly diagnose the condition?
Diagnosis is possible through the presence of common symptoms associated with asbestosis. These common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath after exertion – getting progressively worse as time passes,
- Shortness of breath at rest and during sleep,
- Chest pain and tightness causes by the scar tissue from the asbestos. Symptom often describe as, ‘like a rubber band around the chest’,
- Chronic cough without a fever that could be dry or productive.
These are of course general symptoms that could apply to several pulmonary diseases. So other tests and diagnostic tools are important. These include:
- Chest x-rays – which will show scarring, inflammation, and pulmonary calcifications.
- Chest imaging – can show the presence of tumors or cancer.
- Personal History – vital to a diagnosis of asbestosis and needs to include history of anyone close to the patient that had exposure to asbestos as it travels so easily.
- Lung biopsy – the best to definitively diagnose asbestosis but rarely done because as there is no cure, treatment is geared toward alleviating the symptoms of the disease.