Other Asbestos Related Diseases
In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to airborne asbestos fibers increases the risk of two other major diseases: asbestosis and lung cancer. Asbestos also heightens the risk of stomach, gallbladder, larynx and kidney cancers. Asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop, often manifesting after retirement from an industrial career that involved asbestos exposure. Governmental regulation of asbestos has tightened significantly since the 1970s, so asbestos exposure has been greatly reduced but it is still present in some industries.
If you or a loved one has an asbestos-related disease, an experienced asbestos lawyer in Southern California at Rose Klein & Marias LLP, can outline your options for lawsuits and other legal remedies.
If you have a history of asbestos exposure, you may be at risk for asbestosis, a non-cancerous respiratory disease caused when microscopic shards of threadlike asbestos fibers are breathed into the lungs and become lodged. The body excretes acid in response to the foreign object, causing scarring or fibrosis that stiffens the lung tissue, restricting its ability to expand and contract with breathing.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Symptoms of asbestosis include: shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, weakness, respiratory infection, coughing up blood, hoarseness, swelling of fingers and other extremities, nail abnormalities, insomnia, loss of appetite, weight loss, crackly breathing, chest pain, and tightness in the chest. Complications can include heart problems like congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and fluid buildup.
To diagnose asbestosis, doctors may perform pulmonary function tests, blood tests, CT scans and/or x-rays. The disease is not reversible, but its progression can be slowed and symptoms treated. Treatments include medication, oxygen, breathing therapy, chest percussion and fluid draining. Exercise can increase lung capacity and a humidifier can ease symptoms. Effort should be made to prevent infections and colds. In rare cases, patients undergo lung transplants.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Division of Respiratory Disease Studies issued a report on asbestosis in the US:
- Highest rates of asbestosis deaths were in Washington, Maine, West Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware and New Jersey
- Most victims were white males with a median age of 74
- Most common victims’ occupations were plumbers, pipe fitters, steamfitters and insulation workers
- Most common victims’ industries were construction, shipbuilding and repair, industrial and miscellaneous chemicals, and railroads
Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths, differs from mesothelioma. Lung cancer causes the growth of abnormal, cancerous cells into a tumor in the lung itself, not in the organ’s lining. Like mesothelioma, lung cancer can metastasize (spread) to other areas of the body.
By far, smoking is the highest risk factor for lung cancer. However, chronic exposure to certain industrial chemicals, including asbestos, also heightens the risk of developing lung cancer. The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure can be deadly. Anyone with a history of asbestos exposure or an asbestosis diagnosis should not smoke tobacco.
The main symptom of lung cancer is coughing. Other symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Appetite loss
- Bloody phlegm
- Weight loss
- Bronchitis or pneumonia
Common diagnostic tests include x-rays, CT scans, phlegm analysis, biopsies and various intubation tests. A variety of tests are used to determine the lung cancer stage, which influences treatment choices. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, medications, radiation, photodynamic therapy (medication combined with light therapy) and fluid removal.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer and have a history of asbestos exposure, contact Rose Klein & Marias LLP in Southern California, to speak with a skilled asbestos attorney about your legal rights.
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