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Living With Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic disease. Although there is no cure, you can take certain steps to improve the quality of life for you and your family.

What to Expect

You may get sick more often when you have asbestosis. As your disease progresses, you may need to make lifestyle changes like using oxygen, attending pulmonary rehabilitation and learning to go about your daily life in a way that keeps you from feeling too short of breath.

In very advanced diseases, you may need to be hospitalized to help with your breathing. As with all lung diseases, it is important to discuss with your doctor how to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. If your doctor thinks there may be a point when your asbestosis will cause you to be hospitalized, he or she may recommended making plans for the future. He or she might recommend filling out an advance directive and taking other steps so that should you be hospitalized, all of your wishes are respected.

Managing Asbestosis

Your doctor can help manage your symptoms. You can also help yourself by doing the following to prevent complications of the disease and improve your quality of life.

  • Maintain nutrition
    • Eat a well-balanced diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables.
    • Drink adequate amounts of water, at least six glasses of water daily.
    • Limit your salt intake.
  • Get enough rest.
    • Adequate sleep every night.
    • Take frequent short rests during the day.
  • Exercise regularly.
    • Stay as active as you can. 
    • Go to the gym, if your body allows.
    • Do not overexert yourself.
    • Make sure the weather is suitable when you exercise outdoors.
  • Prevent infections
    • Wash your hands often.
    • Avoid large crowds.
    • Get flu and pneumonia shots according to your doctor's recommendations.
  • Avoid exposure to bad air.
    • Stay inside when air pollution is severe and pollen counts are high.
    • Avoid breathing pollutants that can trigger shortness of breath, including second-hand smoke, traffic fumes, smog, aerosol sprays, and vapors from products, such as paint, kerosene, and cleaning agents.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to avoid breathing in cold air in cold weather.

Pay attention to people who live with you and see if they have similar symptoms. They may have been exposed to asbestos fibers you might have brought home on your clothes, shoes and body and are now developing the disease.

Finding Support

Communicate regularly with your doctors about changes in your breathing and general health. The Lung Association recommends patients and caregivers join our Living with Lung Disease Support Community or Better Breathers Clubs to connect with others facing this disease. You can also call the Lung Association's Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA to talk to a trained respiratory professional who can help answer your questions and connect you with additional support.

Patients with asbestosis have filed lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers and employers for failing to provide a safe workplace. Asbestos lawsuits can take a long time and may be expensive. Some received money while others did not.  You should consult a good attorney if you believe that you have respiratory problems from asbestos exposure.

    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.

    Page Last Updated: March 13, 2018

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