What is asbestosis?

Asbestosis is a type of scarring of the lungs or pulmonary fibrosis caused by the building material asbestos. It is one of several asbestos-related diseases.

Causes of asbestosis

Asbestosis usually develops many years after exposure to asbestos - a group of naturally occurring minerals. Before  their harmful effects were known, asbestos fibres were widely used in  insulation, building materials such as roofing and floor tiles, and brake  pads. Although asbestos has been banned in the UK, it can be found in older buildings. If the asbestos containing materials are intact, they pose little  risk but they require specialist removal.

The risk of developing asbestosis is related to the duration and extent of your exposure to asbestos. People who have handled asbestos at work are  at higher risk of developing the condition, such as carpenters, plumbers,  electricians, laggers or boiler makers, dock workers and ship building, asbestos miners, builders and painters. Second hand exposure is possible for household members of exposed workers, as asbestos fibres may be carried home on clothing.

Symptoms of asbestosis

Asbestosis symptoms include cough and shortness of  breath. Find more about pulmonary fibrosis and its symptoms.

Treatments for asbestosis

Asbestosis is not curable and there are currently no medications that will slow down pulmonary fibrosis once it has developed. However, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy may help improve your quality of life. It is important to stop smoking.

Ongoing treatment

You’ll have regular appointments with your medical team to explore how your asbestosis is progressing. Together you will also decide whether supportive treatments are appropriate.

Outlook of asbestosis

In general, pulmonary fibrosis progresses slowly in patients with asbestosis. But if you are or were a smoker, the disease may progress faster, and you have a higher risk of lung cancer.

[fs-toc-omit] Other forms of pulmonary fibrosis

[fs-toc-omit] Get support for asbestosis

Join a support group in your area

It’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are now over 75 pulmonary fibrosis support groups around the country.

Support groups meet informally to share experiences, provide expert information and raise funds and awareness. Find a group near you.

Call our support line

APF runs an email and telephone support line offering information and advice about living with PF. Find out more.

Find us on social media

We have an active and supportive online community ready to welcome you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates, news and connections to our online community.

Watch videos of how other people cope day to day with PF.

Information provided by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF) is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s intended as general information only. APF is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered by users resulting from the information published on actionpf.org.

Further information for carers:

Your essential caring guide (PDF)
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