Asbestos is a material that is usually present in construction materials utilized in old houses or commercial establishments. The moment these building materials are disturbed, they can shed out tiny asbestos fibers into the air where they are inhaled unknowingly, resulting to a variety of symptoms and health problems that manifest years later.
Asbestos has been identified as one of the causative agents of cancers and other health complications. The use of asbestos has already been banned in various countries but there are still old structures present that might contain the material, thus increasing the risk for health problems in the future.
Who are at risk?
Individuals who are at risk for health complications due to exposure to asbestos are those who have been exposed to large amounts for an extended period of time to the substance. This includes individuals who work in industries that involve materials that contain asbestos. Even though asbestos is present almost everywhere, concentrated amounts are usually encountered by firefighters, shipbuilders, construction workers and automobile workers.
Old houses and commercial establishments that are under renovation can increase the presence of asbestos. If the materials used in these structures contain asbestos, it is best to stay away in order to avoid prolonged exposure to the substance.
What are the general symptoms?
The symptoms of different asbestos-related conditions are similar and typically include breathing problems such as chronic cough, wheezing, pain, and throat discomfort and chest tightness. In some case, it also includes coughing up of blood. Additionally, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and lack of appetite can cause further concern. There are first aid measures that you can perform to help ease some of the symptoms.
Effect on the lungs
Exposure to asbestos can cause certain non-cancerous complications that can affect the thin membranes in the lungs. This typically includes the thickening and the build-up of plaque in the pleura which is the lining of the lungs. It can also lead to effusions which are collections of fluid between the layers of the lung tissue.
This is a non-cancerous condition that develops as a result of exposure to asbestos. The symptoms do not manifest until years after the exposure. This is caused by the scar tissue that oftentimes forms in the base of the lungs after asbestos exposure. The symptoms include breathing issues such as coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain.
Mesothelioma is considered as a rare form of cancer but the most common cancer that is linked with exposure to asbestos. It is important to note that mesothelioma typically affects the thin membranes of the abdomen and the chest. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, breathing problems and weight loss.
Other cancers that can develop due to asbestos exposure
Aside from lung cancer and mesothelioma, other forms of cancer are also linked with exposure to asbestos. This includes gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers as well as cancer of the kidney, throat, esophagus and gallbladder.