Perhaps you've heard that exposure to asbestos is the top reason why people develop mesothelioma, cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, as well as the abdomen in some cases. Continue reading to learn why asbestos exposure often causes that devastating effect, as well as what people can do after known exposures.
Mesothelioma Develops Once Asbestos Fibers Are Inhaled or Swallowed
Researchers know that this disorder occurs after people inhale asbestos fibers. The fibers become lodged in places including the lining of the lungs and heart. Inflammation develops first, then tumors form. If a person swallows asbestos fibers instead of inhaling them, they may cause peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdomen.
It Usually Takes a While for the Ailment to Develop
Generally, problems occur anywhere from one to five decades after initial exposure to asbestos. Many people who experience them were construction workers during a generation that did not know that asbestos was harmful. Because issues usually do not arise for a significant period of time after exposure, some people become retired from the workforce by the time health problems started happening. That meant they were unable to do anything to minimize their exposure during the period of time when doing so would have been most important, because they didn't realize asbestos was harmful. There has been a small percentage of cases affecting younger people because it's possible, but rare, for the latency period to be much shorter.
Certain Asbestos Varieties Are More Dangerous Than Others
There are no types of asbestos that are safe, as the Environmental Protection Agency considers all of them to be carcinogenic. However, researchers have determined that amphibole varieties are significantly more likely to cause the kinds of ailments being focused on in this piece. Although scientists say most cases of this cancer are caused by asbestos exposure, some people believe the issue is caused by radiation therapy instead. Researchers have yet to find solid evidence to support that claim.
If you know you have been in a place where asbestos was used (such as within an old structure that was built before asbestos risks were known), it's important to be aware of the most common symptoms so you can visit your doctor for a potential diagnosis if you notice odd health issues that don't go away.
When this ailment affects the lungs, symptoms that are most commonly seen include difficulty breathing, coughing fatigue, night sweats and hoarseness. In contrast, when people are suffering from the variety that attacks the abdomen, they may notice issues like unexpected or sudden weight loss, reduced appetite, swelling or pain in the abdomen, fever and nausea. There are also some symptoms that correlate to where associated tumors are located in the body.
A Doctor Can Make a Diagnosis
After experiencing some or all of these symptoms, it's important to seek professional medical attention promptly. Then, a physician can perform tests and exams to learn more about what's going on.