If you get asbestos in your lungs, fibers can get stuck in your lung tissue and can remain there for a long period of time. Asbestos can cause scarring, inflammation, and several types of serious lung problems, including pleural effusions, pleural plaques, asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
What Is Asbestos?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used for decades in construction materials, fire-retardant clothing and equipment, automotive parts, and a wide range of common household products.
Construction workers, firefighters, and mechanics were often exposed to asbestos at work on a daily basis, and some carried asbestos fibers home on their clothing and bodies and exposed their families to it. Some people were also exposed to asbestos by using consumer products that contained it.
How Can Asbestos Affect People’s Health?
Asbestos fibers are generally not a danger if they are undisturbed, according to the Mayo Clinic. Asbestos fibers can travel through the air when miners process the material naturally or when people work with products containing asbestos. Fibers can also be released when materials made with asbestos break down or when buildings containing asbestos are renovated or demolished.
When construction workers, firefighters, and others work with asbestos, or when homeowners renovate their houses, asbestos fibers enter the air in the form of tiny dust particles. People who are not using appropriate safety equipment can inhale the asbestos fibers. They may begin to experience medical problems decades later.
Exposure to asbestos can cause fluid to accumulate between the layers of the pleura, or the membranes that line the lungs and chest cavity. That condition is known as a pleural effusion. A small amount of fluid in the pleura is normal, but the Cleveland Clinic notes that too much fluid can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Asbestos can cause pleural plaques, or a buildup of chalky collagen in the pleura. Pleural plaques are not the same as asbestosis or cancer. Some people with pleural plaques do not have any symptoms. If you have pleural plaques, that does not mean that you will develop cancer. You should, however, monitor your health and see a doctor if you have a persistent cough, pain, or shortness of breath.
If you inhale asbestos fibers repeatedly over a long period of time, you may develop asbestosis, a chronic lung disease. When asbestos fibers get lodged in lung tissue, they can cause irritation and scarring, which can make the lungs stiff and can make it hard to breathe. The more you were exposed to asbestos, the greater your risk of developing asbestosis. Smoking can increase your risk of having asbestos fibers get stuck in your lungs and can cause your illness to progress faster.
Symptoms of asbestosis can range from mild to severe and may include chest pain, persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and clubbed fingers and toes that are wider and rounder than normal. You may not develop any symptoms until years after asbestos exposure. Having asbestosis can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
If you inhale asbestos fibers, they can get stuck in the mucus in your throat, trachea, or bronchi, the primary passageways that lead to the lungs. If some fibers reach the ends of small airways or enter the pleura, they can produce irritation and may eventually cause lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Studies have found that inhaling any type of asbestos increases the risk of developing lung cancer. People with greater exposure and individuals who smoke have a greater risk of developing cancer.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that usually affects the pleura and the peritoneum, or the lining around the abdominal organs. All forms of asbestos can cause mesothelioma. Greater exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing mesothelioma, but smoking does not increase the risk of developing that type of cancer.
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How Could a Personal Injury Attorney Help You?
Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating. The illness is often detected decades after the exposure. When it is diagnosed, mesothelioma has typically reached an advanced stage and has already spread to other parts of the body. There is often little that doctors can do, other than try to make a patient as comfortable as possible.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may be able to help you seek financial compensation. We handle mesothelioma cases resulting from the negligent exposure to asbestos.
We may be able to figure out who was liable for your exposure and seek compensation, even if the company has declared bankruptcy. Businesses that were hit with a barrage of mesothelioma lawsuits and declared bankruptcy often set up trust funds to compensate victims, according to Reuters.
Each state has a statute of limitations that prevents personal injury victims from filing a lawsuit after a certain period of time.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 217-6099 to discuss your case, your state’s statute of limitations, and how we may be able to assist you.