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What are the signs and symptoms of asbestosis?

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Signs and symptoms of asbestosis include loss of appetite, weight loss, shortness of breath, a dry cough that lasts for a long period, chest tightness and chest pain, as Mayo Clinic reports. The condition may cause widening and rounding of the fingertips and toes. The condition causes symptoms that are similar to other respiratory conditions, making diagnosis difficult.

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Symptoms of asbestosis may take as long as 40 years to occur after asbestos exposure, explains Mayo Clinic. Exposure to high levels of asbestos for a prolonged time may cause airborne fibers to stick in the alveoli, leading to asbestosis. The fibers cause scarring and irritation in the lung tissues, stiffening the lungs.

A combination of tests, such as computerized tomography scans, chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests, may help rule out other respiratory diseases, according to Mayo Clinic. There is no treatment that can reverse asbestosis; however, therapy may help counter breathing problems or slow the course of the disease. A lung transplant may be necessary for those with severe symptoms.

Getting vaccinations against pneumonia and flu help to reduce the risk of lung infections, explains Mayo Clinic. Quitting smoking may help as well. Taking safety measures and reducing exposure to asbestos may help prevent the disease.

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