There are many different tests that your doctor can perform to test for asbestos exposure, including physical examinations, imaging tests, pulmonary function tests, and diagnostic procedures where they remove fluid and tissue for analysis. A medical professional will determine which test will produce the most accurate results based on many factors, including your age, level of exposure, and overall health.
Causes of Asbestos-Related Conditions
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that occurs in soil and rock, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It has been commonly used in construction materials like insulation, roofing shingles, and cement products. Asbestos fibers can be released into the air if the material that contains it is disturbed or damaged.
If you are exposed to particularly high levels of asbestos over a prolonged period of time, the fibers can become lodged in your lungs. These fibers are extremely toxic and can cause severe scarring in the lung tissue, which can make it difficult to breathe.
How to Test for Asbestos in the Lungs
There are several ways to test a person to determine whether they have been exposed to asbestos.
If you suspect that you are suffering from an asbestos-related condition, the first thing your doctor will do is conduct a physical examination. As part of your physical assessment, the doctor will discuss your occupation and the likelihood of your exposure to asbestos. Construction workers, firefighters, and workers in a number of other occupations are particularly susceptible to asbestos exposure because of the type of work they do. Next, the doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs to determine whether they make any unusual sounds (such as crackling or wheezing) when you inhale. This is one test for asbestos in the lungs.
Your doctor may perform imaging tests for asbestos in the lungs, such as a chest x-ray or a computed tomography (CT) scan of your lungs. If you have advanced asbestosis, a chest x-ray will show excessive whiteness in your lung tissue. If the condition is severe, both lungs may be affected.
A CT scan will provide even more detail and help detect asbestosis in its early stages before it is detectable by an x-ray. This type of imaging procedure will generate cross-sectional images of your bones and soft tissue, providing the doctor with a more in-depth assessment of your condition.
Pulmonary Function Tests
These tests are designed to assess how well your lungs are functioning. They can be used to determine your lung capacity and the amount of airflow that moves in and out of the lungs. This can help doctors determine if a tumor is impacting your ability to breathe freely.
Your doctor may choose to perform other tests for asbestos in the lungs like a bronchoscopy or thoracentesis. A bronchoscopy allows the physician to look inside the airways of your lungs by passing a thin tube with a light and camera through your nose or mouth. They may even take a sample of fluid or tissue for further research, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If they perform a thoracentesis (or pleural tap), the doctor will use a hollow needle to extract fluid through your chest wall. According to the National Institutes of Health, this procedure is used for both diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes.
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Signs of Asbestos-Related Diseases or Cancer
There is a wide range of symptoms that may arise if you develop an asbestos-related condition, as listed by the National Cancer Institute.
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- A persistent cough
- Clubbed fingers or toes
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Unusual and unexplained weight loss
- Lumps of tissue on your chest
- Painful coughing
It is crucial to speak with a medical professional as soon as you become aware of these symptoms, as mesothelioma and asbestosis can be misdiagnosed as more common illnesses, such as the flu or an upper respiratory infection. The five-year survival rate of a patient with these conditions is contingent on how quickly the disease has spread. That is why it’s important to test for asbestos in the lungs as early as possible.
Call a Lawyer to Understand Your Legal Rights
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related health condition, you may be able to participate in the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history. Beginning in the late 1980s, companies that manufactured asbestos filed for bankruptcy in the face of rising health concerns related to their products. The bankruptcy courts ordered these companies to create trust funds designed to compensate the victims who would be reporting their asbestos-related conditions for years to come. A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that as a result of more than 730,000 claims filed since the early 1970s, these trust funds and insurance companies have paid out more than $70 billion.
If you or a loved one is suffering due to an asbestos-related health condition, you may be able to seek compensation from these trust funds. Our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is eager to explain how you can access the money from these companies to cover the cost of your medical expenses and other losses. No matter how long ago your exposure to asbestos was, we want to hear from you. For a free consultation, call us today at (800) 794-0444.