The effects of long-term exposure to asbestos typically don’t show up for at least 20 to 30 years after initial exposure. Asbestosis signs and symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath. The main symptom of asbestosis is shortness of breath. Initially, the shortness of breath occurs only with exertion, but eventually it will happen even while you’re resting.
- Coughing and chest pain. As the disease progresses, you may experience a persistent dry cough and intermittent chest pain.
- Finger deformity. Advanced cases of asbestosis sometimes result in a finger deformity called clubbing, where the tips of the fingers spread out and become rounder. Many other types of health problems also can cause clubbing.
If you smoke and have asbestosis, your chance of developing lung cancer increases greatly. Tobacco smoke and asbestos both appear to contribute to each other’s cancer-causing effects.
In general, it’s safe to be around materials that are made with asbestos as long as the asbestos fibers are contained to prevent them from escaping into the air.