Asbestos is a mineral found naturally that is composed of fibres that are flexible and soft. Asbestos is resistant to electricity, heat and corrosion. This made it an extremely useful building material to add to floors and roofing. Asbestos was used in many buildings to best utilise these properties. However, this creates a hazard. Asbestos fibres are made up of even smaller fibrils will become airborne when disturbed. Illnesses develop when asbestos fibres are permanently trapped in the lungs or lung tissue. These are in the form of serious diseases and cancers that develop over time.
Much of the time by the time a diagnosis is given you won’t be able to recover and it will prove fatal. It is important to know the health hazards asbestos exposure will bring so you can best protect yourself from them.
Pleural thickening is caused by the introduction of asbestos fibres into your lungs. Pleura are the two-layered membranes found inside your chest cavity. Asbestos inside this membrane will cause the scarring of regular lung tissue. This scar tissue is larger than regular tissue and will thicken it.
This swelling in the chest cavity will cause a restriction for when the lungs expand to take in oxygen. This results in symptoms such as pain or discomfort in the chest and shortness of breath.
Asbestos Lung Cancer
Exposure to asbestos is hazardous because it will increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer.
Much like in pleural thickening Inhaled asbestos will cause internal damage. Damage inflicted to the lung tissue will cause them to become cancerous. This development will take a long time, undetected. Once developed a process known as metastasis allows it to spread further in a period measured in merely months.
Respiratory infections, wheezing and bloody coughs are all symptoms of asbestos-related lung cancer. Treatment for this includes immunotherapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or removal.
The risk of asbestos-related cancer is still high with the figures recorded in the UK being comparable to the 2446 deaths suffered by mesothelioma patients.
Unlike asbestos-related lung cancer, this type will cause cancer to develop inside the lung’s lining. This malignant tumour develops after asbestos exposure. It can further spread to other parts of your body such as the heart, through your abdomen to your ovaries or testes.
Much like with pleural thickening pressure will be built upon internal organs causing pain to be experienced when breathing, eating or coughing. This is also accompanied by shortness of breath.
As fluid or cancer causes this pressure treatment takes the form of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, palliative care or surgery.
Even then, diagnosed patients in the UK have a survival rate of around 44.5% for the first year, the survival rate will drop to 6.5% after five years.
After asbestos exposure, scar tissue will replace regular lung tissue over the course of 20 to 30 years.
Scarred lungs will be affected in their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. This will lead to symptoms such as extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and coughing.
Worse-still asbestosis weakening your lung functionality will cause your heart to work even harder which sets into motion a set of other complicated conditions. Asbestosis even makes it more likely to suffer from the previously mentioned health hazards such as pleural thickening, asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma.
There is no cure for asbestosis. The damage inflicted on the lungs cannot be reversed but the symptoms can be alleviated through treatment. Treatment includes pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy.
Asbestos is such a health hazard because it causes cancers and diseases to develop that go undetected for decades after the exposure. The fatality rate, the damage it does to the body and rapid ability to spread poses a serious threat to people’s lives.
With asbestos still being found in old homes and places of work steps should be made to minimise the risk it poses to those around it.
Contact an asbestos removal specialist for their expert services to keep yourself and others safe from the hazards of asbestos.