Early symptoms of the disease are dry cough and breathlessness, on exertion. Shortness of breath intensifies as the disease progresses. In the later stages of the disease, there is breathlessness present even while at rest. Smoking often aggravates the symptoms. In the case of the non –smokers, sputum and wheezing are uncommon.
Abnormal lung sounds (on examination) and clubbing of fingers and toes are also indications of asbestosis.
Symptoms are usually very non-specific. They may appear after nearly 20-40 years of exposure. However, in the case of those severely and chronically exposed, the symptoms may surface after 10 years or earlier.
Individuals also differ in their ability to develop the disease. Some of the factors which may influence disease onset include-
• Type of asbestos fibre
• Period of exposure
• Dose of asbestos exposed
• Personal habits, such as smoking