Exposure to asbestos has been linked to serious health concerns since the late 19th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that here in the United States that the issue with asbestos and lung diseases really became a concern. Especially once researchers discovered the link with mesothelioma.
Exposure to asbestos greatly increases your chance of developing lung disease. Symptoms of the disease may take many years to develop after you have been exposed. The most common major side effects are:
- Lung cancer
- Mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer that develops in the protective lining of internal organs)
- Asbestosis (a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the tissue of the lungs)
Asbestos has also been linked to other cancers including cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and larynx.
Both mesothelioma and asbestosis are latent diseases and can take up 10-30 years before signs of the diseases are seen.
Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a very aggressive and deadly form of cancer. It is found in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs. Specifically in the case of asbestos, mesothelioma is found in the tissue of the lungs. Mesothelioma is divided into different types based upon what part of the body is affected. When it affects your lungs it is referred to as pleural malignant mesothelioma, which is the most common form of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma typically develops in people exposed to asbestos in the workplace, commonly in industrial settings, shipyards, old houses, schools, and public buildings.
- Pain in the side of the chest or lower back
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
- Excessive sweating
- Unexplained weight loss
- Trouble swallowing
- Swelling of the face and arms
Many people do not experience any of the symptoms until later stages of the cancer. Symptoms typically begin with fatigue and slight pain around the tumor. Late-stage symptoms are more noticeable – weight loss, shortness of breath, fluid buildup, and bowel obstruction.
According to the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America, “there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and no discernible threshold below which there is no risk of mesothelioma.”
Signs and Symptoms of Asbestosis
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that is not a form of cancer or mesothelioma. The condition is caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos. Like mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis may not be diagnosed until decades after the exposure occurred. The trapped asbestos fibers cause fibrosis, or scarring of the lungs. Lung tissues thicken, causing pain and restricting breathing.
Other symptoms of asbestosis include:
- labored breathing during routine tasks and exercise,
- shortness of breath,
- chest pain,
- “crackling” noise made by lungs when inhaling
- “clubbing” of the fingers
Asbestosis patients have an 8-10 times higher risk of developing lung cancer than those without asbestosis. Asbestosis also increases the risk of developing mesothelioma.
If you have been affected by any of these side effects, or if your loved one has died due to exposure to asbestos, please contact us right away. You can fill out a free case evaluation, or call us for a free consultation.