Asbestos is found in damaged or disturbed installation, fireproofing, acoustical materials and floor tiles. There are no immediate symptoms related to exposure, but it can lead to a long-term risk of chest and abdominal cancers and lung diseases. If this was a workplace injury, you may need to call a Texas Workplace Injury Lawyer.
The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be visible, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. After they are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs. Asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings), and asbestosis (irreversible lung scarring that can be fatal). Symptoms of these diseases do not show up until many years after exposure began, which limits the chances of survival for people who are diagnosed. Most people with asbestos-related diseases were exposed to elevated concentrations on the job. Some developed the disease from exposure to clothing and equipment brought home from job sites.
The early symptoms of mesothelioma are often non-specific, which may lead to a delay in diagnosis. Sometimes resembling viral pneumonia, pleural mesothelioma patients may have shortness of breath, chest pain and/or persistent cough. Because the symptoms of mesothelioma mimic the symptoms of other respiratory illness, it can be very difficult to diagnose. Some patients may show no symptoms at all, but a chest
x-ray may show a buildup of fluid or pleural effusion. The right lung is affected 60% of the time, with involvement of both lungs being seen in approximately 5% of patients at the time of diagnosis.
Less common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include pain or swelling of the abdomen due to a buildup of fluid. Nausea, weight loss, bowel obstruction, anemia or swelling of the feet may also indicate the presence of peritoneal mesothelioma.
If you suspect that you have mesothelioma symptoms, there is a wealth of free information about asbestos available from the American Lung Association and from the U.S. Product Safety Commission.
A diagnosis of mesothelioma is most often obtained with careful assessment of clinical and radiological finds in addition to a confirming tissue biopsy. A review of the patient’s medical history, especially a history of exposure to asbestos is taken. This is followed by a complete physical examination, x-rays of the chest and abdomen and lung function tests. A CT scan or an MRI may also be done at this time. If any of these preliminary tests is suspicious for mesothelioma, a biopsy is necessary to confirm this diagnosis.