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Asbestos and Pulmonary Fibrosis

Posted Nov 16 2010 6:15am
Our lungs get a lot of work because they are always working to trap oxygen to give to blood as well as remove carbon dioxide from the bloodstream as waste. Thus, when something happens to our lungs, it can be hugely detrimental. A lack of oxygen can make daily life difficult, and prolonged loss of air can even cause brain damage. When diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis occur in our lungs, it can be a big problem.

Pulmonary fibrosis affects an estimated 5 million people worldwide. It is characterized by intensive scarring in the delicate tissue of the lungs, which inhibits their ability to expand to bring oxygen into your body. In addition to this stiffening, it also prevents the tiny air sacs of the lungs, called alveoli, from completely the transfer of oxygen to blood and carbon dioxide from the bloodstream.

There are many different things that can initiate the scarring sequence of this lung problem. Diseases such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and sarcoidosis can all cause the lung to start scarring. Additionally, inhaled pollutants such as asbestos fibers can contribute to the damage, and cigarette smoking hurts the lungs as well. Lastly, some medications can cause pulmonary fibrosis as a side effect, and therapeutic radiation causes this disorder also.

While doctors are not really sure what exactly causes this disorder, some people may be genetically predisposed to developing pulmonary fibrosis without any of the initiators listed above. However, the most current research points to microscopic irritations in the lungs which causes almost an autoimmune-like overreaction of scar tissue buildup. Thus, asbestos fibers, which can break into microscopic pieces that are easily inhaled and lodge in the lungs, can cause pulmonary fibrosis and its asbestos-related subcategory, asbestosis.

Pulmonary fibrosis hinders your ability to get the amount of oxygen that you need. This results in a variety of symptoms, including
Shortness of breath

Chronic dry cough



Chest pain

Loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss

Sadly, once you are diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, there is not very much that doctors can do to help you. Although there is no cure for this disease, many drugs are in clinical trial stages to help with the scarring. Additionally, you may want to have a supplementary oxygen supply to help you carry out your daily activities without becoming out of breath.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a debilitating disorder that can be spurred by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. If you or someone you know has developed this disease or any other condition due to asbestos exposure, you should speak to an attorney about your rights. For more information, call an asbestos attorney at Williams Kherkher today.

Joseph Devine

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