Asbestos fibers are tiny and sharp, and your immune system cannot get rid of them. The damage caused by asbestos typically takes 10 to 50 years to manifest symptoms. When symptoms appear, they are often mistaken for the signs of other, less dangerous health problems. Many people are not even aware that they have been exposed to asbestos.
The most common way for asbestos to enter the human body is by inhalation. The lungs take the biggest hit. Asbestos can cause both cancerous and non-cancerous diseases affecting the lungs including:
- Asbestos pleural disease
- Pleural mesothelioma
- Lung cancer
When asbestos affects the lungs, symptoms typically start out with shortness of breath after exertion, but progress to difficulty breathing even when at rest. Eventually lung capacity is reduced to the point that you can no longer perform normal everyday tasks.
Asbestosis is severe scarring of the lungs. It is not malignant, but it can still be fatal. When your immune system attempts to get rid of the asbestos fibers and fails, it causes scar tissue to form in your lungs. The scar tissue prevents your lungs from expanding and contracting fully, drastically reducing lung capacity. It can eventually lead to heart failure.
Asbestos pleural disease works the same way, but happens in the lining of the lungs rather than inside the lungs themselves.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the protective membrane around your lungs, abdominal organs, and heart. It is a fast killing caner with no cure, and it is extremely painful.
There are three types of mesothelioma, categorized by the part of the body affected. The most common type, pleural mesothelioma, attacks the lining of the lungs. Mesothelioma can also affect the abdominal organs and the heart.
Reduced lung capacity causes your heart to work too hard, trying to compensate for the lack of oxygen, and can eventually lead to heart failure. Pericardial mesothelioma is cancer of the protective sac around the heart. Tumors form and fluid builds up around the heart, causing palpitations, irregular heart beat, and pain.
Asbestos can cause cancer throughout the body including:
- Lung cancer
- Larynx cancer
- Kidney cancer
Mesothelioma is characterized by extreme pain. Among the many ways that mesothelioma causes pain, the tumors in the lining around internal organs put constant pressure on those organs, and sometimes on bones. The short life expectancy of mesothelioma patients is devastating to victims and loved ones, but the pain quickly takes over as the hardest part to bear. Pain management makes up a large portion of treatment.
If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos related illness, contact one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers today, or click here for a free case review.