Asbestos poisoning, and its many forms, is caused by exposure to asbestos over prolonged periods of time. Particularly for those who worked with asbestos (this was often the case before the dangers were fully understood and it was very popular between the 1940s and 1980s due to its heat resistance, conductance and chemical resistance) this can be a serious issue to look out for, and the symptoms of asbestos poisoning may take between 15 and 40 years before they make themselves known.
What Is Asbestos
Asbestos is not one but a group of minerals which all occur naturally as thin fibres. It is this small size however that means they can cause various problems as they can float in the air and be easily breathed in to cause problems in the lungs.
The different minerals however of course are slightly different in their appearance and in their effect. Amphibole is made of straight fibres that are much like needles. Amphiboles however are a category themselves and include: actinolite, anthophylite, amosite, crocidolite and termolite. The most commonly found asbestos in commercial products that most people suffer from is chrysotile.
Asbestos causes a number of health problems and this is as a result of its being breahted into the lungs. Of the health complications that asbestos can cause, the most common are: asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Absestosis is caused by the physical presence of asbestos in the lungs which causes scarring and fibrosis. Mesothelioma meanwhile is a type of cancer that attacks the tiny membranes surrounding the lungs and abdomen, while more general cancer is also common and one of the largest causes of death among asbestos sufferers.
Symptoms of Asbestos
If you were a construction worker at any time during the 1940s-80s then you will have been likely to have been exposed to asbestos. Otherwise if you worked in a shipyard, or even as part of asbestos-removal companies you could also be at high risk. As such these groups should all be vigilant in looking out for the early symptoms of asbestos poisoning. More alarming, the friends and family of these groups may also be at higher risk due to the tiny asbestos fibres getting caught in their clothes and hair and being brought home with them after work.
Bellow are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Difficulty breathing/short of breath
- The sound of cracking when breathing
- Chronic coughing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Anemia (low blood iron)
- Chronic chest pain
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Fever particularly during the nightclubs
Of course these symptoms alone to not mean you have asbestos poisoning with any degree of certainty. However they are certainly warning signs that you should look at getting checked, and particularly if you are in one of the high risk groups. If the doctor deems it necessary then you may be admitted for a chest X-ray or CT scan, and this may be followed up with a lung biopsy. By getting your problem addressed quickly you will increase your chances of a full recovery.