Asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis are treatable. However, they are incurable. Asbestosis is progressive and irreversible. Mesothelioma, sometimes called “asbestos cancer” is usually considered to be fatal.
Between 1979 and 2001 more than 43,000 people in the United States died from illnesses that were related to coming in contact with asbestos.
The illnesses are the result of breathing in or swallowing asbestos fibers or particles. Once in the body the sharp-edged tiny particles can cause scarring in the abdomen or lungs. Symptoms may not be evident for ten to forty years from the time of exposure.
Often asbestos related diseases remain undiagnosed for decades. In the early stages the symptoms are quite similar to pneumonia. Symptoms include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, blood in the phlegm, difficulty while swallowing, feeling pain or tightness in the chest, fatigue, weight loss, and a loss of appetite.
Smokers who have been exposed to this material increase the probability of lung cancer developing from asbestos exposure by fifty to ninety times. Often lung cancer patients are led to believe that their smoking caused their illness when exposure to asbestos was the actual cause.
The most reliable way to determine if asbestos is at fault is to have a lung biopsy performed. If previous exposure to asbestos is at the root of the problem asbestos fibers will be detected by the biopsy.
There are a number of treatments that can be somewhat effective in controlling malignant mesothelioma, an asbestos related disease. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are often prescribed.
Depending on the advancement of the disease a physician will probably recommend one, if not all, of these methods in an attempt to control the proliferation of cancerous cells.
Asbestos pleural disease and asbestosis, while still incurable, are non-malignant forms of diseases related to asbestos exposure. However, treatments that are designed to increase the patient’s intake of oxygen and remove fluid from their lungs can prolong their lives and make them feel more comfortable. These treatments include bronchodilators, oxygen therapy, and chest percussion, amongst others.
Veterans, especially those who were in the Navy and served during World War II or the Korean War, are likely candidates for an asbestos related disease. That’s because at that point in time asbestos was used extensively onboard Navy vessels.
Because of it is non-flammable, asbestos was used to insulate virtually every part of the interior of every ship that was built prior to the late 1970s. This included sleeping quarters, engine rooms, boiler rooms, mess halls, navigation rooms, and more.
Some veterans of that era may be able to collect benefits if they have asbestos related illnesses. However, because of the way the government structured the requirements it is often in a veterans best interest to hire a mesothelioma attorney on a contingency basis to help them get what is due them.