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Asbestosis Causes & Risks

Causes

Asbestosis is caused when the fibers are inhaled deep into the lungs. Here they are trapped in tiny airways where they cause scarring, called fibrosis, to the lung tissue. Repeated or continuous exposure over a long time can cause scarring over large areas of the lungs. When this happens, lungs lose their elasticity. When lungs can’t expand and contract normally, a person will experience shortness of breath. Scarring also decreases the ability of the lungs to do their work of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Thickening and Fibrosis of Lung Tissue

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© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Asbestosis primarily affects people who are regularly exposed to asbestos. The more a person is exposed, the greater the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. However, most people who have had prolonged exposure to asbestos do not develop asbestosis. Those at highest risk are:

  • People who handle asbestos material at their workplace:
    • Workers who mine or process asbestos
    • Construction workers
    • Shipyard workers
    • Vehicle mechanics
  • Family members of people who work with asbestos and bring the fibers home on their hair or clothing
  • People who work at sites where asbestos is found
  • Smoking

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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