Many people have heard of asbestos and realize that it can be dangerous, but fewer understand how it can affect their health. Asbestos is a mineral that was used extensively in construction and manufacturing until the 1980s, and it is still present in many buildings. Here are 3 of the most common ways that asbestos can compromise your health.
Asbestos fibers are most dangerous to people when airborne, and exposure to these fibers can lead to several diseases, one of which is called asbestosis. This chronic lung disease is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers and the resulting lung tissue scarring. The common signs and symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, loss of appetite, weight loss, clubbed fingertips and toes, chest pain or tightness, and a persistent, dry cough. Asbestosis symptoms typically appear many years after continued exposure to asbestos.
A thin tissue called the mesothelium lines most of your internal organs, and mesothelioma refers to cancer that occurs in the mesothelium. Mesothelioma can develop in different areas of the body, but pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs, is the most common variety. This disease is also the most common asbestos-related cancer. The signs and symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include painful coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, lumps of tissue beneath the skin of the chest, and unexplained weight loss. It can take decades for mesothelioma to develop after the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers.
3. Lung Cancer
Although research suggests the presence of a link between asbestos and various cancers and diseases, it is known that asbestos can directly cause lung cancer. Asbestos-related cancers develop when the toxic asbestos fibers enter the body via ingestion or inhalation and cause genetic changes to healthy cells. Over time, this DNA damage can lead to cancer. Some common signs and symptoms of lung cancer include wheezing, chest pain, persistent coughing, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and unexplained weight loss.