What's the treatment for asbestosis?
There is no cure available. The goal of treatment is to help patients breathe more easily, prevent colds and other respiratory infections, and control complications associated with advanced disease. Treatment is aimed at preventing progression and relieving symptoms. The most important factor in stopping progression is ceasing exposure to asbestos. Most of the time,
scarring of lung tissue doesn't begin or progress when exposure has ended.
Close monitoring for mesothelioma is mandated. Stopping further exposure to asbestos is essential. Supportive treatment of symptoms includes respiratory treatments to remove secretions from the lungs by postural drainage, chest percussion, and vibration. Oxygen therapy at home is often necessary, oxygen therapy relieves shortness of breath. Occasionally, severe cases of asbestosis may be treated with lung transplantation. Ultrasonic, cool-mist humidifiers or controlled coughing can loosen bronchial secretions. Draining fluid from around the lungs using a procedure called thoracentesis also may make breathing easier. Occasionally, lung transplantation has been successful in treating asbestosis.
Doctors often treat the complication of pulmonary hypertension with medications to expand or relax blood vessels, and blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots from forming and obstructing narrowed vessels. Mesotheliomas are invariably fatal; most people with mesotheliomas die within 1 to 4 years of diagnosis. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy do not work well, and surgical removal of the tumor does not cure the cancer. Other treatment is focused on controlling pain and shortness of breath, in an effort to preserve as much quality-of-life as possible.
Aerosol medications to thin secretions may be prescribed. Antibiotics may be prescribed to combat infection. Aspirin or acetominophen (Tylenol) can relieve minor discomfort and bronchodilators that are swallowed or inhaled can relax and widen breathing passages. Diuretics (drugs that increase urine production and excretion) or digitalis glycoside (Digitalis purpurea) are prescribed for some patients.
Regular exercise helps maintain and improve lung capacity. Although temporary bed rest may be recommended, patients are encouraged to resume their regular activities as soon as they can.