Asbestos is a mineral that was once widely used in construction and manufacturing due to its heat-resistant and insulating properties. However, it was later discovered that exposure to asbestos fibers could lead to several serious health conditions. These diseases can develop many years after exposure, making them particularly insidious and challenging to diagnose early.
If you live in an older home with asbestos or work in certain industries that use asbestos, you should be aware of the potential risks. While many countries have now regulated or banned the use of asbestos, exposure can still occur, and it is important to understand what illnesses you can get from asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. It is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. The inhaled fibers can become lodged in the body, leading to inflammation and the eventual development of cancerous cells.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Over time, the fibers can cause scarring and stiffening of the lung tissue, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent cough and chest pain. While not cancerous, asbestosis can severely impact your quality of life.
Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung cancer. The risk is even higher for those who smoke or have other risk factors. Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure can take many years to develop, and early symptoms may be subtle or mistaken for other conditions.
Pleural plaques and effusions
Asbestos exposure can lead to pleural plaques, which are areas of thickening or calcification on the lining of the lungs (pleura). While usually not harmful on their own, they can be a sign of previous asbestos exposure and increase the risk of other related diseases.
Pleural effusions refer to a buildup of fluid in the space between the lungs and chest wall. This condition can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing and may be a complication of other asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to several severe and often life-threatening diseases. It is important that you are aware of the risks, and taking precautions to minimize exposure is essential, especially if you live or work in an environment where asbestos may be present. Regular medical check-ups and monitoring for symptoms can also help with early detection and treatment, improving the chances of a better outcome. Your health is paramount, so take the necessary steps to protect yourself and those around you from the dangers of asbestos.