Over the course of several centuries, people have mined asbestos from the ground and used it as a building material. Up until the 20th century, it was commonly used in the insulation of homes and also used by the U.S. navy in shipyards. However, asbestos is now known to cause several types of lung diseases, all of which can be fatal. People who have worked in certain industries are therefore at an increased risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses, and often these employees may be entitled to compensation if their exposure was due to an employers negligence. Read on for more info about the signs and symptoms of these illnesses.

Risk Factors

Those who have worked in the asbestos mining industry are at an increased risk of developing signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure. However, many other workers, either knowingly or unknowingly, have also been exposed to asbestos. Some of the most common jobs from which people have developed asbestos-related symptoms are:

  • Bricklayers
  • Carpenters
  • Automobile mechanics
  • Electricians
  • Drywallers
  • Insulators
  • Furnace workers
  • Plumbers
  • Roofers
  • S. Navy workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Building inspectors

If you have worked in any of the above industries, there is a chance that asbestos fibers have entered your lungs, especially if you’ve been exposed to the mineral often over an extended period of time.

Signs and Symptoms

Exposure to asbestos does not always lead to symptoms right away. In fact, most people see their symptoms occur 10-30 years after exposure, and some do not develop symptoms for up to 40 years.

Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure, and it is characterized by difficulty breathing. According to the Mayo Clinic, one common symptom is shortness of breath. This often occurs along with a tightness or a pain in the chest. Many patients report having a chronic, dry cough. The tips of the patient’s fingers often widen and look rounder than usual, which is called clubbing.

Mesothelioma cancer is another asbestosis-related illness. Symptoms of mesothelioma are difficult to detect, mainly because the symptoms are commonly found in other illnesses, which often leads to misdiagnosis. Often, patients report no symptoms until after cancer has spread and the patient is already in stage III or stage IV cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are as follows:

  • Cough
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Heavy amount of sweating
  • Hoarse throat
  • Facial swelling
  • Swelling in the arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in lower back or side of chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue

Peritoneal mesothelioma is another common form of the disease. Signs of peritoneal mesothelioma are pain in the abdomen, constipation, vomiting and nausea, swollen abdomen and weight loss.

Though asbestos is now known to cause these illnesses, many people are unaware of the symptoms of mesothelioma and asbestosis. If you or someone you know worked in one of the industrial jobs known to cause asbestos exposure, it is imperative that you get screened by a healthcare professional. If you think asbestos may be present in your home, do not attempt asbestos abatement on your own. A professional, like an asbestos abatement contractor Los Angeles CA relies on, can test a sample of the material and advise you on how it can be safely removed.

Nielsen EnvironmentalThanks to our friends and contributors from Nielsen Environmental for their insight into asbestos abatement and the harmful effects of asbestos.