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Silicosis/ Asbestosis
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Silicosis/ Asbestosis

I am a 30 year old male who worked at a contaminated land testing facility for 2-3 months in the summer of 1993 where I was exposed to high dust levels ( mainly contaminated soil ) , organic toxins , heavy metals and almost certainly asbestos.

Almost 3 years ago I started experiencing symptoms such as fatigue , nausea , muscle twitching , muscle weakness and parathesiae and shortness of breath and chest pain. I had blood tests done over two years ago which revealed nothing abnormal and also had a chest X-ray 15 months ago which again was normal. My GP has also examined my chest with a stethoscope and my chest sounds are normal.

I was initially worried about possible asbestosis and/or silicosis. How reliable would the clear chest X-ray and the normal chest examination by my doctor be? Do asbestosis and silicosis generally show up on X-ray? My symptoms have not progressed particularly in the last 3 years - the fatigue and nausea have generally lessened though the other symptoms remain but fluctuate to some degree. My dyspnea is not necessarily related to the degree of physical I am undergoing. For instance I can feel breathless when at rest or when talking and occasionally experience a clicking noise in my chest when exercising but can sometimes exercise and not be too bad. I also experience sensitivity to fumes and dusts which again can fluctuate.

I am sure my doctor thinks the problem is psychological and he was keen to attribute it to stress. I know CFS covers a lot of my symptoms and some heart conditions may also cause similar. Any help appreciated
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The length of time between your exposure and your symptoms starting does fit with asbestosis and silicosis.  However what you have described are not typical symptoms of exposure to heavy metal or other toxins.  A normal chest examination is a good way to be sure that you do not have any of the problems that commonly cause shortness of breath.  However it is difficult to say that you do not have asbestosis or silicosis based on a normal chest examination alone.

Asbestosis and silicosis eventually do show up on the chest x-ray.  However in the early stages it may take a CT scan of the lungs for them to show up.

Since your shortness of breath is not necessarily related to exercise, stress may be playing a role.  All of your symptoms could be due to stress, but that should not be assumed without further testing.  You should have pulmonary function tests and an exercise study done.  Then you will know if there is a physical reason for your symptoms.

Your fatigue and nausea should be evaluated as if they had developed spontaneously.  They may have no relationship to your 1993 exposure.
3 Comments
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If it was silicosis though , would it not be accelerated silicosis given the timespan involved? Consequently should I not in 3 years be obviously worse than when the symptoms started?
Do these diseases not appear on x-ray in early stages?

How do symptoms like muscle fasciculations and weakness fit in with restrictive lung diseases like asbestosis and like silicosis? Alongside shortness of breath , muscle twitching  numbness and muscle weakness are probably the most predominant symptoms I have experienced.Any ideas?
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Your posting relieved my anxiety somewhat, so hopefully I can relieve yours. My father is presently in last stage asbestosis (pleural plaques) and now has congestive heart failure. I was exposed as well, as a young child. I am now 50. A month ago I experienced shortness of breath which is more a constriction of the chest rising to the throat, but like you exercise does not affect the degree of shortness of breath. I actually have a good cardiovascular reading due to walking and stair climbing. I also have a 'rattly' sensation in the middle of my chest since 1998 which the doctor diagnosed as lung damage caused by smoking (I gave up!). This has also become worse since the chest constricture but until now I only experienced this when experiencing severe hay fever or when climbing pyramids!I consider this a wheeze that doesn't 'rise to the surface'.  I also have a family history of COPD. So you can see I am a lot worse off than you, and hopefully I can get over this impediment too. I am presently taking prednisone for three days, but if that doesn't work I have to go through the full chest thing again with the doctors, which of course makes me feel incredibly anxious. I am not a person
that could handle a chronic illness. Whenever I have received a clear xray in the past the relief has been overwhelming. Now to the anxiety thing - a weird manifestation but the older i get the more I see it it as a cause of manifesting very real symptoms. Just before my present symptoms started I visited my father (who lives overseas).  A few years ago we lost a close friend to Motor Neurone disease. Ths is the worse disease I have ever witnessed. I have had muscle twitches most of my life and thought everyone else did too, but when i found otherwise I thought I had that disease and went into panic mode. It took a trip to a neurologist to convince me otherwise. I read the doctor's letter which said I was 'phobic'. Me!? Hardly! Then a few years later my GP made the mistake of telling me without further investigation that I had MS after a migraine type attack which I now put down to an environmental reason. This continued for two years until we moved. Again I went into anxiety mode where I experienced muscle weakness in my limbs, extreme fear and irritablity. So I think i have met a like mind. If this does not result in a diagnosis of stress...and it is amazing what the human brain can do to the body......I will let you know. My questions: why the chest constriction so suddenly and why is it worsening so rapidly. Internet research does not answer these questions. Anything you want to know about the progession of asbestosis let me know. I am an expert!
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