What're the symptoms of asbestosis?The effects of long-term exposure to asbestos typically don't show up for 20 to 30 years after exposure. Symptoms of asbestosis appear gradually only after large areas of the lung become scarred. The first symptom of asbestosis is usually shortness of breath following exercise or other physical activity. The early stages of the disease are also characterized by a
dry cough and a generalized feeling of illness. A person with noncancerous asbestos effusion may have difficulty in breathing because of fluid accumulation. Pleural plaques cause only a mild breathing difficulty that results from stiffness of the chest wall. Smokers who have chronic bronchitis along with asbestosis may cough and wheeze. Gradually, breathing becomes more and more difficult. In about 15% of people with asbestosis, severe shortness of breath and respiratory failure develop.
As the disease progresses and lung damage increases, shortness of breath occurs even when the patient is at rest. Recurrent respiratory infections and coughing up blood are common. So is swelling of the feet, ankles, or hands. Persistent pain in the chest and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms caused by mesothelioma. Other symptoms of advanced asbestosis include chest pain, hoarseness, and restless sleep. Patients who have asbestosis often have clubbed (widened and thickened) fingers. Other potential complications include heart failure, collapsed (deflated) lung, and pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane that protects the lung).