Common symptoms of asbestosis include chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath, a persistent dry cough, weight loss due to loss of appetite, and a widening and rounding of fingers and toes referred to as clubbing, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms result from long-term exposure to asbestos and don't appear for many years.
Asbestosis is caused by repeated and prolonged exposure to asbestos, a substance frequently used in construction prior to 1975, explains MedlinePlus. Workers in construction, fireproofing, asbestos mining and other related industries were often exposed to asbestos before implementation of government regulations regarding its use. Breathing asbestos fibers can interfere with lung expansion and contraction due to the formation of scar tissue referred to as fibrosis. This is the cause of common symptoms of asbestosis such as coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath.
The severity of asbestosis is dependent on the amount of asbestos breathed in and the length of exposure. However, even in individuals experiencing prolonged and high levels of exposure, symptoms typically do not appear until 10 or more years after exposure and can take as many as 40 years, reports Mayo Clinic. Only a trained physician can diagnosis asbestosis and related conditions. Persons experiencing chest pain, tightness or other symptoms should consult a physician, particularly those with a history of asbestos exposure.