Signs and Symptoms of an Asbestos Related Illness

By now, almost everyone knows that exposure to asbestos is extremely dangerous because it contributes significantly to diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma. What some people don’t know, however, is that the signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure are similar to many other types of lung-related diseases making them hard to detect, even as the diseases progress into a later stage.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleura, or the tissue that lines the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs. Found most commonly in the form of a malignant tumor affecting a person’s lungs, mesothelioma is not curable but can be treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Asbestosis is a lung disease which results from inhaling asbestos particles, which greatly increases the risk of mesothelioma.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure?

1. Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The signs and symptoms of mesothelioma don’t begin to emerge or become noticeable until a few decades after one is exposed to asbestos. The most common signs of mesothelioma are

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Pleural effusions
  • Anemia
  • Muscle weakness

Based on the type and location of the cancer, these symptoms can vary in intensity.

Sometimes, the signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure can be mild enough that people mistake them for normal aches and pains. Without proper testing, even doctors occasionally mistake these symptoms as signs of a more common, less serious illness. For these reasons, asbestos related cancer can be difficult to detect. Unfortunately, this also means that by the time most people do get the diagnosis, the cancer is already in the later stages.

In the advanced stages of mesothelioma, people experience chest pain, weight loss, and respiratory complications. Once the cancer has spread, it’s typical for people to experience dysphagia or difficulty swallowing, superior vena cava syndrome, laryngeal nerve palsy or hoarseness, nerve damage to the face, hypoglycemia, and nerve problems in their arms.

It’s extremely important to note that, if you believe you’ve been exposed to asbestos, you must tell your doctor so they can administer the proper tests. You should also schedule an appointment with a mesothelioma specialist to get a second opinion. Recognizing the symptoms and getting the proper medical treatments early enough will offer a much better chance of receiving an effective treatment. The stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis has the greatest impact on potential life expectancy.  

2. Common Symptoms of Asbestosis

Asbestosis refers to a scarring of the lung tissues caused by an inhalation of asbestos fibers over a long period. Some symptoms of asbestosis are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Clubbing of toes and fingers

Most of the people who experienced prolonged exposure to asbestos did so before the late 1970’s. Still, it is possible for people currently working in construction and other industries to come into contact with asbestos.

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, because you work in construction and you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to go to a doctor right away. As has been previously mentioned, asbestosis contributes to a high risk of mesothelioma, and early detection is key.

If you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure and believe you are at risk, it’s incredibly important that you seek out a medical professional right away. If you have questions or would like to discuss a possible mesothelioma or asbestos claim, our mesothelioma and asbestos lawyers are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation.

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