Asbestos poisoning, or asbestosis, is an illness caused by prolonged and constant exposure to asbestos particles. These sharp, fibrous particles-when inhaled-will puncture and penetrate lung tissues, causing deep scarring and often leading to chronic breathing problems and cancer. Exposure to asbestos or materials containing this mineral may also result to mesothelioma, a cancer unique to such situation that directly affects the protective lining of the major organs in the body. The gravity of asbestos poisoning is directly proportional to the period and concentration of one’s exposure, and of course the treatment will depend on the extent of the damage caused by asbestos fibers and particles to the body.
The side effects and health problems brought on by exposure to asbestos do not immediately manifest. Usually, the illnesses will start popping up decades after an encounter with the hazardous mineral. You will only feel the debilitating effects of asbestos exposure twenty to thirty years from now.
People over 50 are the ones who usually exhibit symptoms of asbestos poisoning and mesothelioma. This is because of the long latency period of these illnesses, and also because asbestos was not regulated until several years ago.
Asbestosis is the least serious of all the diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. However, the symptoms and effects of this disease are not to be taken lightly, as they are debilitating and sometimes fatal. Coughing, chest pains, reduced physical stamina, and shortness of breath even while at rest are the typical symptoms of asbestosis-and they worsen over time. Over-the-counter medicines may temporary alleviate the symptoms, but it is recommended that one suffering from such problems consult a physician immediately.
The common “cures” for cancer such as chemotherapy, medication, and radiation therapy will extend the life expectancy of a person suffering from mesothelioma. Surgery can also be an option, though not recommended for people who have been extremely weakened by asbestos-related conditions. Mesothelioma is often fatal, because it is not diagnosed and discovered until the cancer has significantly advanced. It is highly aggressive and a doctor will often prescribe a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to combat the development of the cancer.
The best treatment-especially for people who have not contracted the disease yet or have not exhibited the symptoms-is to avoid exposure to asbestos at all costs. This includes removing all traces of asbestos in one’s environment. If you live in a house constructed in the 1940’s and the 1950’s, you might want to contact a professional immediately for inspection. Asbestos was not a regulated substance until several years ago, so you might find it in vintage items that have heat and fire-resistant qualities. Insulation materials installed in the roofs, attics, ceilings, and walls might also contain this deadly substance, but you cannot overlook its possible presence in furnaces, fireplaces, siding tiles, and even vinyl and rubber flooring tiles.
Asbestos removal is a job best left to the experts, who have the skills and knowledge on removing asbestos materials safely and decontaminating the structure right afterward.