White lung is another name for asbestosis. Asbestosis is an asbestos-related medical condition where the lungs become damaged and scarred because of asbestos fibers. This scarring, when severe, can cause problems with respiratory function. Over several decades, white lung can lead to serious respiratory failure.
This nickname likely stems from the appearance of the scarring that appears on x-rays. X-rays depicting lungs affected by asbestosis are very distinctive, with large white areas. These white areas are interstitial fibrosis, an irregular growth of excess fibrous tissue the body uses to repair the lungs. Over time, this inflexible tissue leads to obstructive disease, and the lungs lose function in the affected areas.
Asbestosis Is a Serious Concern for Those With High Levels of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestosis is a primary concern for people with high levels of asbestos exposure, according to the American Cancer Society. This disease takes years to develop, much like other asbestos-related medical concerns.
As a person breathes in asbestos fibers, the body tries to expel them. Some get caught in mucus and coughed out, while others break down naturally in the body. Many, however, make it into the lungs and lodge into its tissue. Over time, the body’s defenses work to try to remove these irritating fibers. The body produces extra scar tissue as a result. This is known as fibrosis, which is the cause of asbestosis.
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling like you cannot fill your lungs
- Chronic cough
- Fingertips and toes that appear wider and rounder
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chest tightness or pain
It generally takes at least 20 to 40 years after a person’s exposure to asbestos for asbestosis to develop, according to the American Cancer Society. Those with the highest levels of exposure generally develop symptoms and “white lung” in less time than those with limited exposure.
Asbestosis Can Lead to Serious Pulmonary Problems
This disease is progressive. The scarring does not stop when the exposure to asbestos does. Instead, it continues to grow and affect more and more of the lungs. Respiratory failure can occur and there is no cure. Oxygen therapy and other steps to relieve symptoms is the most common approach.
As fibrosis continues to develop, the effects on the lungs and respiratory system become extremely profound. The severity of asbestosis can vary widely, but a person with a severe case of this disease will likely experience:
- Reduced lung volume
- Inability to inhale deeply
- Lungs that will not fully expand as they would in the past
- Small airway disease, causing obstructive symptoms
- Impaired gas exchange
- Progressive and slowly developing shortness of breath
Asbestosis may be visible on chest x-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans before physical signs are present. It is possible to spot radiographic changes in less than 20 years following initial exposure. This time is even shorter in those with extremely high levels of exposure.
Symptoms usually begin between two to four decades following the first exposure to asbestos. Unlike mesothelioma or other asbestos cancers, the decline with asbestosis is not rapid. In many cases, those with asbestosis develop a more serious asbestos-related condition and die from that condition rather than white lung.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 47% of all people diagnosed with asbestosis actually die from asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma. A third of people with this diagnosis pass away from a cause unrelated to asbestos exposure.
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White Lung May Qualify You to Pursue a Settlement or Award
Asbestosis is a serious medical condition that causes years of pain and suffering, even leading to respiratory failure and death. An asbestosis diagnosis often supports an award or settlement in the asbestos mass tort.
If you have a history of asbestos exposure and now have asbestosis or another asbestos-related medical condition, you should not have to pay for your treatment and other expenses out of pocket. The asbestos manufacturers should be responsible for these damages, not your family.
When asbestos companies began to file for bankruptcy in the late ‘80s, the courts recognized that there would be additional claimants for decades to come since these diseases have such a long latency period. For this reason, these courts required the asbestos companies to establish asbestos trust funds. These funds make it possible for injured parties to pursue compensation.
Get Legal Help Today for Your White Lung
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our attorneys can help you understand your asbestosis diagnosis and your legal options. We will review your case for free.
Our team handles all asbestos mass tort cases with no upfront costs for our clients. We take our fee from the settlement or award we recover on your behalf. You can reach a member of our team now for your complimentary consultation. Call (800) 794-0444 today.