Asbestos is a mineral that has been widely used in construction, insulation and fire prevention due to its excellent durability and fire resistance properties. However, a few decades ago alarming medical reports were released indicating a strong link between asbestos exposure and various lung diseases, such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Continue reading to learn how asbestos affects the body, discover the main symptoms of asbestos exposure, and review some of the treatments for asbestos-related ailments.
The reason asbestos is an excellent construction and insulation material lies in the physical structure of the asbestos fibers. Asbestos consists of millions of microscopic fiber molecules that are short and very thin. While these properties make asbestos very durable, they also mean that the asbestos fibers can become airborne and inhaled by humans. Once in the lungs, the asbestos fibers might become logged within the lungs or within the lining of the lungs.
If the asbestos fibers remain in the lungs, they often cause various changes, one of which is asbestosis disease. This condition causes the development of scar tissue in the lungs and the membranes surrounding the lungs. As a result, breathing becomes difficult, and the body is deprived of oxygen. The main symptoms of asbestosis are shortness of breath, coughing, and unspecific chest pain.
Exposure to asbestos has also been linked to the onset of lung cancer. This disease causes the growth of malignant tumors in the lungs. If the lung cancer is not diagnosed early, it can spread (metastasize) to the surrounding organs, eventually leading to death. However, if the lung cancer is detected at an early stage, several treatments can be administered to slow or halt the growth of the cancerous cells. Often, the most effective treatment approaches combine chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical excision of the cancerous cells.
The most serious condition caused by asbestos exposure is pleural mesothelioma cancer. Unlike lung cancer, mesothelioma cancer affects the lining that surrounds the lungs. Sometimes, mesothelioma cancer can also develop in the lining of the stomach (peritoneal mesothelioma) or the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma cancer). Unfortunately, mesothelioma often does not produce any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. This is why most mesothelioma victims succumb to this condition within one year of their diagnosis. However, new treatments are currently being developed to prolong the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients and ultimately find a cure for this debilitating condition.
Consult with a trained medical professional to learn more about the consequences of exposure to asbestos, including asbestosis disease, mesothelioma cancer, pericardial mesothelioma cancer and life expectancy of mesothelioma victims.