Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure: Health and Legal Implications

While certain types of cancer have been linked to asbestos exposure for nearly a century, the causal connection has only been strong enough for victims to successfully sue for just over 40 years. The main reason that asbestos related diseases have been so elusive is their long latency period. A person can go without symptoms for 20 to 50 years, then quickly metastasize to a terminal condition in virtually no time. If the following symptoms are observed, a diagnosis should be made as quickly as possible. Symptoms of diseases cause by asbestos tend to resemble those of much more benign illnesses, so the sufferer should have the worst case scenarios ruled out immediately.

Symptoms of Asbestosis and Mesothelioma

There are two primary asbestos related cancers: asbestosis and mesothelioma. Both stem from years of scar tissue buildup in the lungs following the ingestion of asbestos fibers, which is why it takes so long for symptoms to manifest. Both diseases share respiratory and problems.

A victim of asbestosis will suffer from dyspnea, or shortness of breath, often accompanied by wheezing and chest pain. About 15% of persons with asbestosis will experience respiratory failure. Respiratory problems will result in reduced lung capacity, which will sometimes cause clubbing of the fingers due to lack of oxygen delivery.

Mesothelioma will often have more extensive circulatory symptoms. In pleural mesothelioma, the victim will slowly develop a pleural effusion, which is a buildup of fluid between the pleura (or lining) of the lungs, and the pleura of the chest wall. In peritoneal mesothelioma, the fluid accumulates within the lining of the abdominal cavity, causing abdominal swelling, vomiting, constipation, anemia, stomach pain, and blood clots in the legs.

The Importance of Diagnosis

Because symptoms of asbestos poisoning overlap with diseases not due to asbestos (such as lung cancer from smoking), it’s essential for the patient to have his or her condition properly diagnosed, especially if a company is liable for asbestos contamination. Many, if not most patients found to have asbestosis or mesothelioma are given a prognosis of 6-18 months to live, while most asbestos lawsuits take at least a year to go through the courts, even in states that fast track cases involving terminal conditions. An out of court asbestos settlement, on the other hand, can often be negotiated within 6-12 months, given a strong diagnosis. If you suspect that you’ve worked in an asbestos-rich environment at any point in the past, and are currently experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, consult a physician as soon as possible.

Comments are closed.