Health effects of asbestos

11 July 2014
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Category: First Aid
11 July 2014, Comments: 0

Asbestos is basically a fiber that was previously utilized in construction as an insulating material, for soundproofing and in floor tiles. Even though an individual exposed to asbestos will not suffer the health effect initially, he/she can experience long-term lung disease from the exposure.

Due to the long-term health effects caused by exposure to asbestos, it has been banned in different countries all over the world. At the present, workers are still in danger from asbestos exposure when remodeling projects require the removal of old asbestos.

The asbestos fibers are very small in size and they become invisible once airborne. An individual close to asbestos can inhale these fibers without knowing and can easily bring it home where the entire family can inhale the substance. Once asbestos is inhaled especially in substantial amounts, it can cause permanent lung damage. Exposure to asbestos typically occurs in construction sites as well as in houses or business establishments where materials that contain asbestos were used in the past.

Time frame of asbestos exposure

Even though most individuals who were exposed to trivial amounts of asbestos will not develop any symptoms, those who have been exposed to substantial amounts of the fiber can develop symptoms of lung disease after 20-30 after the exposure.

Risk for lung cancer

Asbestos

Asbestosis involves the scarring in the lung tissue due to exposure to asbestos fibers. The symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and even clubbing of the fingers can occur after years of exposure to asbestos.

The potential of developing lung cancer after asbestos exposure increases among those who have inhaled large amounts of the fiber as well as those who are smoking. Of course, not all who have lung cancer experience the symptoms during the initial stages. In some cases, the individual will have persistent cough and bloody phlegm. Additionally, the lung cancer tumors that are fatal can spread to other organs in the body.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is considered as a type of cancer that occurs in the mesothelium which is the two-layered lining surrounding most of the organs in the body. The condition is a rare form of cancer but occurs more in men than women and the risk is increased as the individual ages. Most cases occur among individuals who have been exposed to asbestos.

Some individuals with mesothelioma do not have any symptoms for 30-50 years after asbestos exposure. The symptoms of the condition include painful breathing, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss and abdominal swelling. The treatment for mesothelioma includes surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis involves the scarring in the lung tissue due to exposure to asbestos fibers. The symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and even clubbing of the fingers can occur after years of exposure to asbestos. The treatment for this condition includes medications to improve the lung function and minimize inflammation as well as vaccination to prevent severe lung conditions such as pneumonia. If you want to learn more about pneumonia, click here.

Preventive measures

Due to the health effects of asbestos, limiting exposure to the material is the best way to prevent them. Always remember that exposure to asbestos occurs once materials constructed using asbestos fibers are disturbed or damaged. In case the floor tiles are comprised of asbestos, residents of that house are at high risk of exposure unless the tiles are broken apart.

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