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Asbestos Exposure Symptoms – the dangers of asbestos exposure

Posted Oct 09 2012 3:04pm

Almost every day, we read or hear news about another victim of asbestos exposure and the illnesses and conditions related to it, so what are some asbestos exposure symptoms to look out for?

Asbestos exposure symptoms – the related diseases

One of the most common asbestos-related illnesses is pleurisy (pleuritis), and the symptoms usually include: sharp and severe chest pain in one of the lungs when taking deep breaths, and even when a movement is made. The pain disappears when the affected person holds their breath. In many cases, the pain will spread to the neck, abdomen and shoulders. This painful condition causes the person with pleurisy to breathe rapidly and with shallow breaths. Other symptoms may include: fever and chills, diarrhea, sore throat, etc.

Another asbestos exposure-related illness is Asbestosis, which is an inflammation of the lung or lungs, causing: coughing, shortness of breath and might cause scarring of the lungs, which makes breathing difficult and even impossible. A person with asbestosis may experience chest tightness, a loss of appetite and crackling sounds from the lungs when breathing.

Other asbestos exposure symptoms can be experienced as a result of a rare and very aggressive cancer – asbestos-exposed mesathelioma. This is a cancer, which develops in the linings of the lungs, the heart or abdomen. The most common symptoms are chest pains and shortness of breath. The abdominal mesathelioma has other symptoms, such as weight loss, anemia, fever, abdominal pain and swelling, bowel obstructions, etc.

Asbestos exposure can lead to the development of lung cancer, where the symptoms are similar to the previously mentioned – shortness of breath, chest pains, etc. Symptoms of lung cancer can also include coughing blood, wheezing of the lungs, anemia, hoarseness and weight loss.

Other illnesses, which are directly associated with exposure to asbestos include: lung pleural plaques, pleural effusion, which is liquid accumulated in the lung membranes, or thickening of this membrane.

Some doctors go even further by claiming that asbestos may be the core cause for other cancers – such as throat, brain, kidney, gastrointestinal, etc. cancers.

Recent studies have even associated exposure to asbestos to the development of autoimmune disorders and as a threat to thyroid health.  The results of the major study show that there is a correlation between environmental pollutants and contaminations and the development of autoimmune disorders.  This new theory may explain why in the last years more people have been diagnosed with thyroid related autoimmune disorders, like: Graves disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis . The scientists from Montana found that as much as 25 percent of the people examined, who had been exposed to asbestos, had developed antinuclear antibodies in their blood, which is typical for autoimmune diseases.  These antibodies are present in the bloodstream of people suffering from: lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid-related autoimmune disorders, etc. The longer an individual has been exposed to environmental asbestos, the higher the level of bloodstream antinuclear antibodies they were likely to have. It was also found that people with more severe asbestos-related lung problems had significantly higher rates of the antinuclear antibodies in their bloodstream.

Who is threatened to be exposed to asbestos and to develop asbestos exposure symptoms

Asbestos has been widely used in construction, various industries, in paints, adhesives, car parts, floor tiles and even crayons for more than 200 years. Today, because of the known health hazards its use is limited. The danger of asbestos exposure occurs only when the material is “disturbed” which causes microscopic fibers to be released in the air, and breathed in by the people close to the source. It may take up to 30 even 40 years following such an exposure for the asbestos exposure symptoms to appear.  Of course, the most affected by asbestos exposure are the people who actually work with the material itself, and unfortunately, the secondary-exposure they bring home to their families, resulting from the asbestos fibers which get stuck in the person’s hair, clothing, etc.  Unfortunately, people who live close to asbestos mines, mills or other industries using asbestos are also very prone to develop asbestos–related complications and serious illnesses. Demolition workers who work on old building are also at higher risk, because of the possible asbestos fibers spread into the air following the demolition of an old building constructed with asbestos.

Experts worry that those who helped during the attacks and those involved in clearing up the ground zero terrain following the 9/11 attacks on the WTC, could also suffer asbestos related illnesses, because one of the towers was constructed with asbestos. They say that during the attack and after that hundreds of tons of the harmful asbestos fibers were released in the air.  This is another possible tragedy related to these terrorist attacks.

Other worrying news come from Australia’s worst industrial disaster area – Wittenoom, where the asbestos mine and mill were closed back in the 1960’s but today of 2,460 children from the region examined, 500 have developed asbestos related cancers or have died. The Asbestos Diseases Society fears that the number of the kids who have been exposed to asbestos may be over 9,000.

Asbestos exposure symptoms may occur years after the actual exposure. Of course, not everybody who has been in contact with this material will develop a related illness.  The risks of getting an asbestos-related illness depends on the intensity of exposure, the time spent breathing the asbestos fibers, the size and shape of these fibers, and of course the quantity breathed in.  In case a person has an existing lung disease, exposure to asbestos will most likely bring on complications. Smoking also is said to increase the risk of getting asbestos-related illnesses.

Asbestos–related problems can be diagnosed through X-rays of the chest and abdomen, MRI’s and CT scans or other tests of the lung functions. Biopsy may be needed to confirm the presence of asbestos fibers or a tumor.

Our suggestion is to go to your doctor if you have any worrying symptoms, which you fear may be asbestos exposure symptoms, and please don’t be hasty to jump to conclusions and self-diagnose yourself, because not every cough or wheeze will mean you have asbestos exposure related illness – it can be a common cold or flu.

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