Asbestos-related diseases directly result from prolonged exposure or inhalation of asbestos fibers. It is a hazardous mineral typically used as insulation in water pipes, walls, floors, ceilings, etc.
In fact, from the 1930s till the 1980s, asbestos was a widely used material in the U.S. and was typically known for its insulation, sound absorption, and fire resistance properties.
For instance, most buildings constructed in the United States during the era mentioned above contained asbestos.
In fact, manufacturing and industrial companies used this mineral in everything from household products such as kitchenware to construction materials and everything in between. Unfortunately, inhalation of this deadly mineral proved to be harmful to humans over time.
Since the general public wasn’t aware of its side effects, which made matters worse. It is critical to understand that individuals exposed to asbestos will likely develop asbestos-related illnesses over time.
However, the type of disease they contract will depend on two factors, the duration and the amount of asbestos exposure.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few asbestos-related diseases and tips to deal with them.
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According to a CDC study, more than 45,000 individuals perished to mesothelioma between 1999 and 2015 in the U.S. alone. Not to mention, asbestos exposure is the topmost cause of company negligence and work-related deaths worldwide.
That said, typical asbestos-related illness individuals develop is mesothelioma. It is a type of lung-based terminal cancer that forms inside the lining of your stomach, heart, or lungs. Typically, these diseases are peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, and pleural mesothelioma, respectively.
Dealing with mesothelioma requires a lot of palliative care, surgery, or other drug-assisted treatment. Furthermore, depending on the stage of your mesothelioma, you might need chemotherapy or radiotherapy to increase your chances of survival.
If you’ve been diagnosed with it, contacting law agencies that specifically deal with mesothelioma settlements is a viable option for compensation as treatment usually requires thousands of dollars.
2. Bile Duct Cancer.
According to a 2009 study, sustained household or occupational asbestos exposure can sometimes lead to bile duct cancer. This organ joins your small intestines and liver to your gallbladder and is necessary for proper digestion.
However, constant exposure or inhalation of asbestos can result in cancerous fibers being trapped in these tiny tubes, leading to bile duct cancer.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is a type of bile duct cancer that grows in the liver and is commonly caused by asbestos exposure. That said, surgical resection or hepatectomy is the only treatment for this asbestos-related disease.
Furthermore, other palliative treatment options can slow down growth and make a patient’s remaining life comfortable. Not to mention, a liver transplant is also a viable treatment. However, that depends on the severity of the cancer.
While lung disease doesn’t necessarily mean lung cancer, asbestosis is a common illness that individuals can develop due to asbestos exposure. But that doesn’t mean that this asbestos-related illness is less severe than others.
When you develop asbestosis, your lungs don’t contract and expand as they should. Symptoms usually include chest tightness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
While asbestosis is an ILD (interstitial lung disease), other contributors include hard metal dust, cotton dust, coal dust, and silica dust exposure, leading to sarcoidosis, arthritis, rheumatoid, or other blood connective tissue disorders.
While asbestosis is benign, it can seriously harm your health. In fact, asbestosis resulted in more than 1400 deaths in the U.S. alone between 2000 and 2007.
The typical treatments include inhaler usage, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation, to name a few.
4. COPD(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
While inhalation or exposure to asbestos doesn’t lead to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), it will undoubtedly increase your chances of developing this disease.
In addition, when contracted, COPD will end up weakening your lungs, making you more prone to other asbestos-related illnesses in the future.
Furthermore, individuals might develop malignant cancers or benign COPD-type disease in rare cases. So, if you have a history of asbestos exposure, get yourself screened regularly to spot asbestos and pulmonary-related diseases.
In addition, quitting smoking, taking COPD medication, performing breathing exercises, working out regularly, and expelling music can help you manage this disease more appropriately.
5. Pleural Effusions.
Pleural effusions involve the formation of fluid between your pleural membrane layers. This disease leads to the collection of fluid between the ribs and lungs or the chest cavity, causing shortness of breath in the process.
While pleural effusion might develop due to non-mesothelioma cancer, it is typically a late-stage symptom of mesothelioma.
Though pleural effusions aren’t life-threatening, they might interfere with breathing and cause pain over time. One treatment option to manage and treat pleural effusion is pleurodesis. The process closes the gap between the pleural membranes, preventing space from forming between your chest cavity and lungs and avoiding fluid accumulation.
However, there is a chance that fluid can still build up between the lungs and chest cavity if the lung’s surrounding membranes don’t stick together.
This type of disease leads to the underinflation of the lung when you breathe in air. Also known as the partial collapse of lungs, atelectasis might also result from various other reasons. However, it is an asbestos-related disease called Belkovsky syndrome or asbestos pseudotumor if caused by asbestos exposure.
Atelectasis also leads to pleural thickening. While considered benign, atelectasis might appear as a tumor on a cancer scan. Your doctor might suggest repeat scans or a biopsy to know if it’s asbestos-related cancer or a benign condition.
Typically, treatment and management techniques include deep breathing exercises, postural drainage, incentive spirometry, and continuous positive airway pressure, to name a few. Furthermore, atelectasis is a cancer symptom and might require surgery to treat.
Benign asbestos-related illnesses are generally not fatal unless discovered in their later stages or left untreated. However, asbestosis and mesothelioma are exceptions, being the deadliest asbestos-related diseases of them all.
Furthermore, other cancers that result from asbestos exposure have a poor prognosis since they can quickly spread throughout your body and are hard to treat.
Hence, the best way to manage asbestos-related illnesses is early intervention and detection. Moreover, regular blood tests, scans, and physical exams are the best way to spot asbestos-related disease, ensuring treatments are administered correctly and on time.