Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is found in rock and soil and has been used in a variety of building construction materials and manufactured goods over the years. It is considered extremely dangerous because when handled or damaged its fibers separate into pieces that are too small to see with the plain eye but can still be breathed into the lungs. Not all uses of asbestos have been banned. Long-term exposure can cause build-up in the lungs and result in long-term health problems. Learn more about this, including the history of corporate knowledge and the magnitude of public exposure.
Mesothelioma is perhaps the most well-known health risk of asbestos exposure. It is a deadly cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue that covers many of your internal organs and progresses rapidly. Mesothelioma most often affects the lungs but can also affect the abdomen and heart. Symptoms will vary depending upon where the disease develops but may include chest pain, painful coughing, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, nausea, and unexplained weight loss.
Asbestos can be inhaled or ingested. Inhalation of asbestos has been correlated to an increased risk of lung cancer. In general, the greater someone’s exposure to asbestos has been the greater the risk of that person developing lung cancer is. Frighteningly, when someone has been exposed to asbestos and also smokes, that person’s risk of developing lung cancer increases to a higher level than it would be if the risk associated with asbestos exposure and the risk associated with smoking were added directly together.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Though not as serious as mesothelioma or lung cancer, asbestosis can cause permanent lung scarring. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, a dry cough, loss of appetite with weight loss, chest tightness or pain, and fingers and toes that appear wider and rounder than normal.
All of these conditions many times don’t occur until 10 – 40 years after someone has had repeated and sustained exposure to asbestos. All the symptoms mentioned could present as symptoms in many other conditions, many of them not serious or related to asbestos exposure. However, if someone has a history of asbestos exposure and is noticing any of these symptoms increasing in severity or occurring for sustained periods of time, it may be appropriate to speak to a doctor.
Article Submitted By Community Writer