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Asbestos Diseases

Thousands of people have been diagnosed with deadly diseases caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause inflammation and scarring. The severity of the disease depends on how long the person was exposed and the amount of asbestos inhaled. Malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other rare diseases manifest themselves decades after asbestos exposure. The average life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is five years. However, most patients don't live more than one year after diagnosis.

Asbestos Uses

This miracle material was heavily used in the early part of the 20th century. Due to its insulating qualities, asbestos was very popular in the building and construction industries. The automotive industry has used this mineral in vehicle parts and accessories. Asbestos can be also found in paints, ceiling and floor tiles, fake snow, insulation materials, packing materials, tar paper, welding blankets, and clay.

Studies indicate that exposure to this material may increase the risk of mesothelioma, asbestosis, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers, and lung disease. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have classified asbestos as a human carcinogen. Although everyone is exposed to this material at some point in their life, those who worked with asbestos-containing materials have been exposed to it on a constant basis. Demolition workers, carpenters, auto mechanics, painters, and construction workers face a high risk of developing asbestos diseases.

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure

Diseases from asbestos exposure take up to 50 years to develop. Less than 1 percent of the individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma have a latency period shorter than 15 years. These deadly illnesses are generally diagnosed in people between the ages of 50 and 70 years. Most symptoms are non-specific and indicate other diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis, and hernia.

People who have worked with asbestos products usually present dry cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of appetite, hoarseness, ascites, blood in the sputum, and difficulty swallowing. Those who lived close to asbestos mines are often diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma. Pleura thickening and calcification are early signs of exposure to asbestos.


Inhalation of asbestos fibers may cause asbestosis. This aggressive disease of the lungs has killed over 9,000 people in the United States 1968 to 2005. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they cause scarring of the lungs, which makes it hard for oxygen and carbon dioxide pass through the lungs. Asbestos patients may experience dyspnea, interstitial fibrosis, chronic cough, congestive heart failure, pleural effusion, severe chest pain, and finger clubbing.

There is no cure for asbestosis. Doctors usually recommend oxygen therapy and nebulized medications. Stopping exposure to asbestos is crucial. Approximately 75 percent of all patients die within one year. Researchers have found that asbestosis increases the risk of malignant mesothelioma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer.

Malignant Mesothelioma

More than 85 percent of mesothelioma patients have been exposed to asbestos. This relatively rare form of cancer attacks the mesothelial cells, causing accumulation of fluid in the lungs or abdomen, shortness of breath, chest wall pain, fatigue, anemia, severe weight loss, and persistent coughing. Common locations where this deadly disease occurs are the pleural and peritoneal regions. Mesothelioma can also affect the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).

Lung Disease and Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure may lead to a number of respiratory diseases, including benign pleural effusion, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Scientists have first linked the development of lung disease with asbestos exposure in 1890. Individuals who worked with asbestos materials face a high risk of developing pleural plaques, interstitial fibrosis, malignant mesothelioma, and other respiratory diseases. Interstitial fibrosis develops in the lung tissue, causing shortness of breath. Pleural plaques affect the outside linings of the lung.

Over 180,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer yearly. Exposure to asbestos is one of the main factors responsible for the development of this lethal disease. Lung cancer causes chest pain, joint pain, facial paralysis, coughing up blood, wheezing, unexplained weight loss, and swelling of the face. This form of cancer can be cured only by removing the tumor through surgery. By the time the patient shows the first symptoms, the tumor is in advanced stages.

If you believe that you have been exposed to asbestos, call for an appointment with your doctor. Asbestos exposure can cause cancer of colon, kidneys, esophagus, lungs, and digestive tract. Receiving an early diagnosis can save your life. Contact us for a free mesothelioma information packet today.