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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases?

The signs and symptoms of asbestos-related lung diseases vary. They depend on which disease you have and how much it has damaged your lungs. Signs and symptoms may not appear for 10 to 40 or more years after exposure to asbestos.

If you have pleural plaque, you may not have any signs or symptoms. Pleural effusion may cause pain on one side of the chest. Both conditions often are found with a chest x ray. These conditions may occur earlier than other asbestos-related lung diseases.

The main symptom of asbestosis is shortness of breath with physical exertion. You also may have a dry cough and feel tired. If your doctor listens to your lungs with a stethoscope, he or she may hear a crackling sound when you breathe in.

The symptoms of lung cancer may include a worsening cough or a cough that won't go away, trouble breathing, ongoing chest pain, and coughing up blood. Other symptoms of lung cancer include frequent lung infections, fatigue (tiredness), and weight loss without a known cause.

Symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath and chest pain due to pleural effusion.

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Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases, visit

May 01, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.