Times have certainly changed for victims of asbestos exposure. In the beginning, employers, manufacturers, mining companies, and virtually anyone who profited from the use of asbestos had a financial motive to attempt to avoid responsibility for the harm that it inflicted. In fact, some wrongdoers went so far as to hide their actual knowledge of the dangers of asbestos and the harm it could cause.
Now, the linkage between asbestos and disease is well-accepted by the scientific and medical communities. In fact, due to efforts on many fronts to educate those vulnerable to harm, more and more people understand the risks and take steps to protect themselves. Moreover, many people have now heard of mesothelioma, even if they don’t have a full understanding of the disease. But for those who have suffered long-term asbestos exposure, is mesothelioma the only thing they have to worry about?
Possible Adverse Health Effects from Asbestos Exposure
Many people have seen commercials and read articles linking mesothelioma to asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which attacks a thin lining in the body, which can occur around the heart, lungs, chest and abdomen. Unfortunately, there are other health problems that can result from asbestos exposure. We’ll discuss them below.
Asbestosis – this is a chronic condition which causes long-term scarring and inflammation of the lungs. For some, symptoms can be mild, while for others they can be severe. The damage to the lungs can result in shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, and coughing. Other symptoms may include appetite and weight loss and clubbing of the fingertips and toes. According to the Mayo Clinic, these effects usually are not seen until ten to forty years following the initial asbestos exposure.
Asbestosis Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors may use a number of tools before diagnosing asbestosis. Chest x-rays and CT scans are common imaging tests used. Doctors may also use tests to gauge pulmonary function by measuring the volume of air the lungs can hold and by testing air flowing in and out of the lungs. Additionally, a lung biopsy or bronchoscopy may be used to confirm the presence of asbestos. Unfortunately, however, the adverse effects of asbestosis cannot be reversed. Therefore, doctors will attempt to slow the disease’s progression and to relieve symptoms. Some people are prescribed extra oxygen. In severe cases, a lung transplant may be recommended.
Cancer Forms Besides Mesothelioma
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has linked asbestos to lung cancer, larynx cancer, and ovary cancer. The organization opines that limited evidence links asbestos exposure to an increased cancer risk in the pharynx, stomach, and colorectum.
Protecting Yourself from Asbestos-Related Disease
First and foremost, if you are exposed to asbestos as a part of your profession, take all possible precautions. Make sure that you and your employer are compliant with OSHA regulations. These regulations are designed to protect workers from the dangers of asbestos. Always wear protective clothing required by regulations. Additionally, you can educate yourself at OSHA’s asbestos page. Unfortunately, because it can take years to see signs of these diseases, some victims were exposed to asbestos long ago and may even be retired. Therefore, preventative measures are no longer possible.
Secondly, if you smoke, stop immediately. Studies indicate that the combination of asbestos exposure and smoking is particularly dangerous.
Call with Questions
If you’re suffering any adverse effects from asbestos exposure, please call us with your questions. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we’ve spent our careers fighting to hold bad actors accountable for their actions, thereby making society safer for everyone. If you have concerns about mesothelioma, asbestosis, or cancer, our experienced lawyers can help. Please call at your convenience.