For many years, asbestos was used as a fire-resistant material in construction. Cheap, natural, and durable, it was an obvious choice for industrial products, brakes, drywall, and insulation. During the second half of the 20th century it became very clear to medical professionals that asbestos was linked to serious long term lung damage. Unfortunately, even after its dangers were known, industry did not stop using asbestos.
Lung damage occurs because asbestos is actually a very fibrous material. Asbestos products or insulation that is disturbed—even by something as light as a touch—releases microscopic fibers into the air. These fibers can become trapped in the lungs, where they irritate the lung tissue and cause scarring over time.
When this scarring is severe, the medical term for it is Asbestosis. It is not a form of cancer like Mesothelioma, but it can become debilitating or even fatal. Asbestosis is not curable, and its effects can be suffocating in severe cases. Some individuals require a lung transplant, however, this is rarely possible.
Asbestos fibers typically are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Although victims of asbestosis tend to be tradesmen who were occupationally exposed to asbestos, some workers may not have even known they were breathing these fibers in, until it was too late. Even worse, because asbestos fibers are so strong, it is nearly impossible for the lungs to eliminate them. Victims of asbestosis usually develop some level of difficulty breathing which can lead to other related complications when severe.
Because asbestos was a great fire proofing material, and because it was so cheap, asbestos companies were reluctant to disclose these dangerous defects to the general public. As a result, professionals in construction, carpentry, mining, the military, automotive, or other industrial trades may have developed asbestosis due to their prolonged exposure to asbestos.
Symptoms of asbestosis may take up to three decades to develop. Loss of appetite, persistent chest pain, shortness of breath, and a frequent dry cough are some of the signs of asbestosis. Other medical complications can occur such as heart failure, high blood pressure, and even lung cancer or mesothelioma. Some victims of asbestosis may also see a deformation of fingers and toes known as clubbing.
The silver lining to this cloud is that compensation may be available to you. Companies that sold or worked with asbestos may have known the dangers of the product and kept that information hidden. Their willful concealment and negligence regarding this matter has negatively impacted thousands of lives.
If you believe you were exposed to asbestos while working, or exhibit symptoms of asbestosis, it is imperative that you first get medical attention. A doctor can leverage chest X-rays, pulmonary function tests, and CT or PET scans, to confirm whether or not you have asbestosis. As of now there is no cure for asbestosis, but there are some actions that can be taken to curtail its effects and live a longer life.
Next you should consult with legal counsel to determine what compensation is available to you. This compensation can help defray your medical treatment costs and provide income for your loved ones if the effects of asbestosis are severe enough to take your life. While asbestos-related companies may have chosen to hide the truth about the dangers of asbestos, you do not have to let their willful concealment or negligence prevent you from getting the care you need or taking care of your family.