Asbestos – ‘the magical mineral’ has been used world-wide as a protective material. However since the early 1900’s it became known it presented a clear risk to health.
From exposure a sufferer may be diagnosed with a number of associated asbestos related diseases.
Pleural Plaques, Pleural Thickening, Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and the fatal Mesothelioma.
All present differing symptoms.
Let us take a closer look at Asbestosis
Typically Asbestosis does not tend to show symptoms for many years, often between 25 and 40 years from exposure. The main symptom is difficulty breathing namely a shortness of breath, initially on exertion but later even at rest. Others symptoms may include tiredness, a cough, chest tightness and chest pain.
A less common symptom results in the ends of fingers becoming swollen, misshaped and red due to a fluid build-up, a condition known as finger clubbing.
Generally a GP will ask a patient about their symptoms including listening to the lungs using a stethoscope. If lungs have been damages by asbestos they will make a distinctive cracking noise. Following, the GP will ask about work history and may well suspect asbestos exposure at this point. Additional testing will help to confirm Asbestosis and include:
Spirometer – used to test how efficient lungs work
X Ray – to detect abnormality in the lung and lining of the lung
CT Scan – offers more detail than x ray
Treatment of Asbestosis consists of four main areas:
Quit smoking if a smoker.
Vaccination against dangerous conditions, such as flu.
Medicines to assist breathing.
Equipment, again to assist breathing, particularly oxygen masks, ventilators etc.
Life expectancy of an Asbestosis sufferer
Life expectancy depends much on whether or not the patient develops a more serious asbestos related disease such as Mesothelioma. It is possible for patients diagnosed with asbestosis to die prematurely, but if the disease mutates into a cancer such as Mesothelioma, a patient’s life expectancy is decreased dramatically. Complications that reduce life expectancy for an asbestosis sufferer include:
In some patients the effect of the disease causes only mild symptoms, whereas in other patients the disease reduces the flow of oxygen which can be fatal in some cases.
In the UK asbestos related diseases are due to peak around 2015 with over 2000 fatalities a year.