Most people in Illinois have heard about asbestos and may know that it has been widely used in construction as it is a fire-resistant material. However, over the years, it has been discovered that unprotected exposure to asbestos may contribute to the development of some serious and even deadly diseases.

As explained by the National Institutes of Health, the small fibers from asbestos can easily become trapped in the linings of the lungs. These fibers create scarring and inflammation in the lungs. For some people, asbestos inhalation may be a contributor to the development of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung or abdominal membrane. It may also put a person at a greater risk for developing colon or stomach cancer.

Asbestosis is another condition that may develop after prolonged and unprotected exposure to this substance. Some cases of asbestosis may be mild but others can be extremely severe. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can be difficult to properly diagnosis this disease as the symptoms and signs bear a strong resemblance to other diseases.

Medical professionals commonly test lung function and rely on imaging like CT scans or X-rays to diagnose asbestosis. A person with asbestosis may notice their toes or fingertips develop a club-like appearance, growing in width and becoming rounder than normal. They may feel pain or tightness in their chest along with being short of breath. There is no cure for asbestosis so treatments of this disease will focus on ways to slow down the advancement of the disease to provide people with the ability to enjoy their lives longer while managing their symptoms.