What are the Different Asbestos Related Diseases?

04/11/21

Asbestos is a material that was once used widely in the construction industry due to the revolutionary properties that made it cheap, easy to find and could be mixed with other materials. It had great benefits such as heat, electricity, and water resistance, great for fire protection and heat and sound insulation. Asbestos has a fibrous texture, much like a cloth, making it great for weaving into blankets to make them fireproof or use as insulation. So how could such a great, naturally occurring mineral, pose such catastrophic health risks to the public and our own construction works, during a generation?

Well, it is the asbestos fibrous texture and a massive number of capabilities that make it so dangerous. The fibres of asbestos are so strong that they cannot be broken down by the human body, meaning once they are breathed in, they cause irreparable damage to our lungs. The scarring produced by asbestos fibres also causes inflammation, and this damage leads to several types of asbestos-related lung diseases and problems such as:

·         Asbestosis, which is where the lung tissue becomes scarred. This makes it very painful to breathe and the irritation from inflammation and scarring causes coughing, much like the effects of smoking. This consistent difficulty to breathe and the effort of non-stop coughing causes major fatigue.

·         Pleural effusion, which is a type of pleurisy, can feel like a chest infection but leaves lasting damage to the lung tissue. Similarly, there is also pleural plaques, which are hard substances that form around the lung tissue. The hardening of this material causes pain, stress and tearing, contributing further to the production of scar tissue and thus more hardening mass on the lung tissue. This affects the lungs and the diaphragm, making breathing almost too difficult to bear.

·         Lung cancer and Mesothelioma, which is cancer-specific to the tissue around the lungs. Like many of these conditions, this also causes a thickening of the tissue around the lungs.

The symptoms of the asbestos-related disease can show as a chronic cough or shortness of breath. This is not the same as a common cold, the pain from such a cough can leave you fatigued and breathing itself can cause great pain, be a great effort and never seem to stop. It may take twenty to forty years or more after your exposure to asbestos for symptoms to appear, however, so it is important to know about the different buildings in which you have worked or spent a great deal of time throughout your life. This will help your doctor diagnose asbestos-related lung disease, along with a physical examination, chest x rays or chest CT scans and analyses of your symptoms.

If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, you should inform your doctor as they will be able to keep watch for symptoms or complications and possibly begin any recommended treatment early, reducing the damaging effects of scarring. No treatment can reverse the effect of damage on your lungs, however, treatments may help relieve the pain and symptoms of living with asbestos-related diseases, as well as slow the progress of the disease, prevent complications, and help you live longer.

Treatments for shortness of breath or low oxygen levels in your blood can include oxygen therapy. However, if you have lung cancer or mesothelioma, you are more likely to receive surgery or chemotherapy. Asbestos-related diseases require lifelong care, including regular x-rays and CT scans of your chest, as well as pulmonary function tests. You will be advised to quit smoking if you do so, and offered the support to make this achievable, this is because smoking increases your risk of lung cancer if you have been exposed to asbestos.

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