Signs of Asbestos Exposure
There are multiple diseases which might occur after one was exposed to asbestos, from non-malignant conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis or diffuse pleural thickening to mesothelioma or lung cancer. Consequently, the signs associated with asbestos exposure are different for each individual and range in severity depending on their underlying cause. Nevertheless, despite their broad variety, asbestos-related diseases share a series of general characteristics, as follows:
- Long latency period. Asbestos exposure will result in a disease only after 10 to 50 years of first contact with the mineral’s airborne fibers. While non-malignant conditions, as well as lung cancer, tend to develop within two decades since the person inhaled asbestos fibers, mesothelioma has the longest latency period, typically ensuing after 30 to 50 years. However, these are approximate timespans. Thereby, the onset of a disease can also occur before or after its median latency period, depending on various factors.
- Early symptoms which could easily be attributed to more common conditions. Since a large part of asbestos-related diseases concern the respiratory system, early signs often seem unalarming. Thus, symptoms such as a persistent cough, chest pain or shortness of breath can be ascribed to common respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia. For this reason, an overwhelming number of asbestos victims are diagnosed when their disease is advanced, which typically results in a poor prognosis. Moreover, some people whose health has already been affected by asbestos exposure do not experience any symptoms until their illness is very severe.
- High rate of misdiagnosis. Due to lack of specific symptoms, asbestos-related diseases are frequently misdiagnosed by medical professionals. In approximately 32% of cases, mesothelioma is mistaken for a common respiratory infection or for lung cancer, which leads to a significant delay in treatment. The low prevalence of these diseases is another factor which contributes to their high rate of misdiagnosis, since most doctors will not encounter a single asbestosis or mesothelioma patient throughout their practice.
While asbestos exposure is not immediately followed by symptoms, as toxic fibers cause damage to internal tissues gradually, there have been several cases in which people noticed a rash shortly after having been in direct contact with asbestos. Other skin-related symptoms of asbestos exposure are itching and light-blue warts, which may form when fibers are trapped under the skin. However, the majority of people will not experience any symptoms right after asbestos exposure.
What Are the Most Common Signs of Asbestos Exposure?
Although the symptoms of diseases resulting from asbestos exposure can be considerably different, depending on the condition in question, there are some which occur with most of them. Here are ten of the most common signs a person with a history of asbestos exposure might experience when a diseases has already developed:
- shortness of breath
- a persisting cough
- chest pain which worsens with coughing and deep breathing
- loss of appetite
- recurring respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia
- nail clubbing
- trouble swallowing
- night sweats
If you notice one or more of the above symptoms in you or a loved one, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention immediately. Timely detection is vital when it comes to asbestos-related diseases, as it will allow you to receive the treatment you need without further delay. Treatment is substantially more effective when your condition is diagnosed while it is still in the early phases. Please feel free to contact us at 760-208-4196 or by filing out the form on our Contact page and we will promptly direct you to appropriate resources or help you find a specialist in your area. You can also read more about asbestos-related diseases and their specific symptoms on the following pages of our website: