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What are symptoms of white lung disease?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of white lung disease, or asbestosis, include shortness of breath and a dry cough that doesn't go away, according to Mayo Clinic. The patient loses his appetite, loses weight and has clubbed fingertips. He also feels tightness or pain in his chest.

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Sometimes, the symptoms of asbestosis don’t show up for decades, says Mayo Clinic. Asbestos is a type of mineral that was present in all manner of household products, including flooring, paint, insulation and roofing, until the government banned it for causing lung disease. People who worked with asbestos were at risk of breathing in the fibers, which then were trapped in the tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli. This led to scarring, which eventually led to asbestosis. Smoking makes the progression of the disease proceed even faster.

The doctor diagnoses asbestosis through CT scans, chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests, states Mayo Clinic. The lungs appear white on the X-ray, which gives the disease its alternate name.

There is no treatment that can completely reverse asbestosis, claims Mayo Clinic. The goal of treatment is to ease the patient's symptoms and stop the disease from progressing. To this end, the doctor may prescribe supplemental oxygen for the patient, which is delivered through a nasal cannula. The patient may also be eligible for a lung transplant.

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