Several decades ago, it would not have been uncommon for you to hear about or come into close vicinity with products containing asbestos. Back then, even most home insulation contained the material. It existed (and still does, in many cases) in ceiling tiles, flooring, cabinetry, certain vehicle and machine components, and more. The problem is that when certain conditions are present or disruption of asbestos occurs, it poses a serious health risk to anyone nearby.
Whether you're still active in the workforce or retired, you may be suffering an asbestos-related illness and not even be aware of it. That's because most infections and illnesses associated with asbestos are slow-developing conditions with symptoms that may not be apparent for months, even years, following exposure. The bottom line is the more you know about asbestos, the better, especially if you think you may have suffered adverse health effects because of it. The good news is support networks are already in place to assist you.
Is there more to your fatigue than meets than eye?
Asbestos-related illnesses are often fatal, and many people contracted their diseases because they were unknowingly exposed to asbestos in situations where others were obligated to keep them in the know. Understanding how asbestos affects the body can help you recognize illness symptoms and make you aware of a particular problem sooner than later. The following list provides information on health risks associated with asbestos:
- Even though the most dangerous part of asbestos is microscopic in size, it's difficult for your body to break down or remove the fibers once they become lodged somewhere inside you, particularly your lungs.
- Asbestos particles enter the body through inhalation or ingestion.
- If the microscopic particles lodge themselves in your lungs, in time, your lungs build up scar tissue that can wreak havoc on your state of health.
- Mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer are the three most commonly reported diseases associated with exposure to asbestos.
- There are also diseases of the colon, kidneys, esophagus, abdomen and other areas of the body that may have a direct correlation to repeated asbestos exposures.
As with all adverse health conditions, it's always best to seek immediate medical care. However, most treatment regarding asbestos-related illness is palliative, meaning that it only provides symptom relief and helps a patient be as comfortable as possible. This is because many of these diseases are incurable.
Asbestos that is friable is most dangerous
Is it possible to be exposed to asbestos without suffering ill-health effects? Studies show that it may be, especially if nothing has disturbed the asbestos. The next list explains what types of situations and issues increase the danger risks of asbestos:
- When something is friable, you can easily crumble it in your hand. If that something happens to be a product containing asbestos, you should know that its friable state is the most dangerous. This is why undisturbed asbestos products do not pose as much of a risk. However, when flooring, ceiling tiles or other asbestos-laden products chip, peel or crumble, they are highly dangerous.
- People can cause friability in asbestos products. Drilling, hammering, scraping or any other blunt movement that disturbs the condition of the asbestos product creates friability and, thus, increases injury risk.
You can also contract an asbestos-related illness when you did not have firsthand exposure to asbestos. Many children have suffered infections and diseases after coming in contact with a parent who worked in a textile factory, shipyard, steel mill, construction job or other place where asbestos fibers attached themselves to clothing.
Symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses often include chronic fatigue, chest pain or other body aches, nagging cough, lack of appetite and unexplained weight loss. Situations of asbestos exposure in the workplace often lead to litigation, which is why it's good to know how to access the support resources that can help most if that time comes.