Asbestos is a type of mineral fiber that is used for insulation and strengthening. However, in 1973, its use as raw material for various products was stopped because of the health hazards it posed.

Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can cause mesothelioma cancer, a condition that affects the mesothelium lining of the lungs as well as the stomach and other internal organs of the body. It can also cause asbestosis and other serious lung disorders.

Asbestos symptoms are usually very subtle and difficult to identify. As such, it could take years from the first exposure before asbestos symptoms become noticeable. In other words, a person could be suffering from the ill effects of asbestos exposure before he is even aware of any asbestos symptoms.

Types

There are many types of asbestos symptoms that an individual may experience. Depending on the type of asbestos-related disease, asbestos symptoms may range from mild to severe. Below are a few common asbestos symptoms, categorized as to the type of asbestos-related disease:

Asbestosis

This is a type of non-cancerous asbestos-related disease. Characterized as progressive, asbestosis could set in as soon as there is exposure to the asbestosis fibers. However, asbestos symptoms usually do not appear until fifteen to thirty years after the first exposure.

The disease can cause a build-up of scar tissue which replaces the tissues in the lower half of lungs, thus, impeding normal functioning.

The signs include:

* Chronic cough

* Chest pain

* Shortness of breath (dyspnoea)

* Difficulty breathing

Mesothelioma

A more serious asbestos-related disease is malignant mesothelioma. Again, the asbestos symptoms of this disease are not usually noticeable until up to 50 years from the first moment the individual was exposed to asbestos fibers.

The specific asbestos symptoms associated with this disease largely depend on the type of mesothelioma. But here are some of the signs that are common between disease subtypes:

* Weight loss

* Chest pain

* Shortness of breath (dyspnoea)

* Anemia

* Bowel problems

* Swelling

* Persistent cough

* Fever

* Night sweats

Detection

As mentioned, asbestos symptoms are difficult to pin down, especially during the early stages of the disease. Any of the abnormalities that may develop at the first onset of the disease may not be detectable in a lung X-ray. It is only during the more advanced stages of asbestosis or mesothelioma that abnormalities are distinctive.

For instance, in advanced asbestosis, a chest X-ray will reveal an abnormal, predominant opacity evident in the lower lobes of the affected lung. Sometimes, the asbestos symptoms could be in the form of linear shadows in the chest, revealed during X-ray.

Treatment

Depending on the type of asbestos-related disease, a patient usually has various treatment options. For instance, mesothelioma is treatable with appropriate surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, or radiotherapy.

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