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The 5 Most Common Health Problems Related to Asbestos Exposure

Written by:
Anees Saddique

People are regularly exposed to asbestos in both workplaces and communities. When materials containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny fibres released into the air may be inhaled into our lungs and cause cancer or other health problems.

Asbestos is a mineral composed of hard, long fibres that can withstand heat, electricity, and corrosion - qualities which made it popularly used for construction, insulation and fireproofing until the 1980s. Even today some products such as paint contain asbestos.

1. Lung Cancer

Inhaling fibers can increase your risk of various health conditions, such as lung cancer. Once inhaled, these fibers become trapped in the lungs and may lead to scarring (asbestosis) or fluid build-up around them. Overexposure increases risks; those directly working with asbestos, laundering clothing containing it or living in areas where asbestos was used are particularly vulnerable; veterans and others connected with military service also face additional danger due to extensive use during wars are at greater risk due to extensive use of this material during wars.

Contact increases one's risk for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most prevalent form of lung cancer caused by smoking tobacco products. Smokers who also have had asbestos exposure could have even higher risks of mesothelioma or other lung diseases - both can take years for symptoms to appear and make diagnosis difficult.

2. Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an uncommon but fatal cancer of the mesothelium, the thin membrane surrounding internal organs. People exposed to asbestos are at greater risk than others of it due to the microscopic fibres released when breaking it down, which are easily inhaled into lung tissue and lodged there for years before symptoms appear, making diagnosis even harder.

Most asbestos exposure occurs through blue-collar industries and all branches of the military; however, those working in other fields or at home may also have been exposed. While most cases of mesothelioma occur among men over 65, women and younger individuals can still contract the disease; additionally secondary disease can appear later.

It can result from one exposure or multiple asbestos-related incidents over time, with an individual's chances of mesothelioma increasing with longer and greater asbestos exposure.

Exposure causes horrible abrupt mesothelioma when mesothelial cells lining the lungs or abdomen develop tumours. Pleural mesothelioma is the most prevalent form, while less frequently it may affect other areas like abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) or heart linings (pericardial mesothelioma) or testicles (testicular mesothelioma). Depending on where it forms, symptoms range from dry cough, chest pain to abdominal pain as well as sudden weight loss.

3. Lung Infections

Asbestos breaks down into tiny fibres that can become airborne and inhaled by inhalation. Once inside a person's lungs, fibres may lead to various health conditions including lung cancer and mesothelioma; they may also lead to non-malignant conditions like scarring of the lungs as well as non-malignant conditions like fibrosis and scarring of pulmonary tissue.

Inhaling fibres can irritate the pleura lining of the lungs, eventually leading to asbestosis - scarring of the lungs that makes breathing more difficult and scarring of scar tissue in them. Some types of asbestos, like chrysotile (which is most often used commercially) increase your risk for asbestosis more than other varieties.

When someone is exposed to asbestos, their natural defences attempt to clear away its fibres, however some lung fibres can bypass these defences and travel deeper into their lungs, potentially reaching into the pleura and leading to serious disease.

People suffering from asbestosis may exhibit numerous symptoms, including breathlessness, chest pain and persistent coughing. Additionally, they may develop fever or feel fatigued constantly; additionally, their risk of pneumonia infection increases significantly.

Asbestosis is caused by long-term exposure. It's more prevalent among smokers and healthy lifestyle changes and regular screening can help manage its symptoms more effectively. Unfortunately, asbestosis cannot be cured; however, living a healthier lifestyle and receiving screening tests regularly may help manage its symptoms more effectively.

4. Heart Disease

At best, fibres you inhale may stay stuck inside of your lungs for years and cause inflammation and scarring that eventually leads to mesothelioma, lung cancer and other serious health problems. Most victims don't experience symptoms until several years post-exposure, and initial signs are often vague and misinterpreted as other conditions; thus, prolonging diagnosis and treatment timescales of mesothelioma.

Exposure increases the risk of heart disease. According to research published in Britain's Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, those exposed had a higher chance of cardiovascular diseases even when taking into account factors like age, job history, and smoking histories.

Pericardial mesothelioma (heart cancer) is less prevalent than other forms of asbestos-related cancer. Less than one percent of mesotheliomas are pericardial forms; this form only makes up one form. Diagnosing pericardial mesothelioma can be challenging due to symptoms resembling other heart conditions, including shortness of breath and fatigue.

5. Asthma

Asbestos is a group of needle-thin mineral fibres commonly used as insulation and fire retardant in buildings. When inhaled, fibres can lead to serious lung conditions like mesothelioma and asbestosis, meaning asbestos removal in Brisbane is a necessary service, to most. exposure increases respiratory illness risk but not every case will lead to respiratory illness due to various factors like length and level of exposure as well as smoking habits, gender and age considerations.

Exposure can occur both at work and home, with most exposure occurring in construction industries or ship repair businesses. Workers are typically exposed when dismantling and repairing older buildings and ships made of friable (crumbly) materials or manufactured at homes or offices that contained asbestos.

Asbestos breaks apart into microscopically thin, airborne fibres when disturbed. If breathed in, these particles enter the lungs and can remain lodged there for extended periods, further exacerbating asthma symptoms in those already suffering from it. As asbestos is a known lung irritant and therefore may worsen symptoms in individuals already diagnosed.

Pleural plaques, scarring in the lung lining that causes shortness of breath and increases risk for other asbestos-related diseases like pleural effusions, lung cancer and mesothelioma, may develop among some individuals who are exposed to asbestos.

By Liliana Alvarez

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