What Does Asbestos Do to the Lungs?

What Does Asbestos Do to the Lungs?

Back in the day, asbestos was a popular natural mineral used to insulate walls. It was often found in other things such as cloth, paper, and cement. However, if you inhale or ingest asbestos and the particles are trapped for a long time, you may develop lung problems later on in life. So what does asbestos do to the lungs?

Causes of Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a known chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos particles. The main causes generally apply to people who were exposed to high levels of asbestos dust over a prolonged time. The fibers can become lodged in the alveoli, the tiny balloon-like sacs inside the lungs. These fibers will irritate the lungs and create scar tissue. After prolonged exposure, the lung sacs will become stiff and make it difficult for the person to breathe.


As we mentioned, protracted exposure to asbestos can lead to severe health problems, including scarred tissue and shortness of breath. This condition has a wide range of symptoms, many falling into the extreme assortment. Unfortunately, these symptoms don’t appear until some time later—generally, people who were exposed to asbestos won’t report symptoms until fifteen years afterward.

Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, a continuous dry cough, and loss of appetite as well as weight loss. Your fingertips and toes may become rounder and broader than average—this is called clubbing. The last symptom is chest pain or tightness. If you’re experiencing these symptoms and you have a history of asbestos exposure, it’s time to go to a doctor about the possibility of asbestos exposure.

Can Your Lungs Heal from Asbestos?

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for asbestosis, and this chronic disease can also cause mesothelioma, though it’s rare. However, some treatments can help. This disease is similar to pulmonary fibrosis, so a doctor will need to perform additional tests. A few of the recommended approaches to treatment are eating a good diet, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.

You can prevent respiratory infections by getting your annual flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine. Also, wash your hands and avoid large crowds and any areas that have toxic air. Other treatments include a lung transplant, pulmonary rehabilitation, medication, and supplemental oxygen.

Prevent Asbestos Exposure

You can reduce the potential for exposure by not messing with asbestos and taking extra safety measures when you’re working around it. If you’re unsure if an area in your home contains asbestos, contact a professional who can look at the material for you and test it.