7 Signs of Asbestos Poisoning and How to Prevent It
It is estimated that asbestos poisoning is responsible for about 90,000 deaths globally every year. In addition to this, 125 million people remain at risk of exposure from asbestos. It is mainly occupational related. Asbestos is one of the natural mineral products. Asbestos refers to six minerals that occur naturally. These minerals are Chrysotile, Amosite, Tremolite, Crocidolite, and Anthophyllite. Chrysotile is the most common type of asbestos. Asbestos is resistant to corrosion, electricity, chemicals, and heat. This mineral was used widely in the past on floor tiles, cement, and products.
To rule out the risk of exposure, it is imperative to conduct asbestos air monitoring and assessments, especially for older buildings. Licensed experts should handle these inspections. Visit thresholdenv.com.au for more information on how to protect yourself and your workers from the risk of asbestos exposure.
If you suspect that you have been exposed, look out for the following signs:
- Shortness of Breath
If you inhale asbestos fibers for an extended period, scar tissue can form in your lungs. This condition is referred to as asbestosis. The scar tissue causes blockage, and this leads to shortness of breath. It is one of the first signs that can point to asbestos exposure.
- Swollen Fingertips
Swollen fingertips is another common sign of asbestosis. Everyone does not experience this, but nearly half of the cases reported have this symptom in common. The swelling is mainly on the fingertips where the tips appear rounder or fuller.
People who are exposed to asbestos tend to feel extremely tired even after doing simple chores. This is often combined with shortness of breath. Fatigue is also an indicator of other asbestos-related illnesses such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Wheezing is another common sign. The inflammation of the lungs causes this. Wheezing can also be followed by shortness of breath. If you experience wheezing and you do not smoke, then this is a significant concern for concern and may point to extensive asbestos exposure.
- Persistent Dry Cough
While the effects of the asbestos can go undetected for long, one of the tell signs that can help detect it earlier is a persistent dry cough. This cough can remain even after someone is exposed after 20 years. A dry cough develops due to the formation of scar tissue, especially in the lungs. This tends to build up over time and so does a cough.
- Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is an advanced sign of asbestos exposure. The hypertension is caused by scar tissue build-up. This makes it hard for arteries to pump blood smoothly into the lungs. Hypertension occurs due to the increased pressure to pump blood from the heart to the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension can lead to congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease. This is because the heart is forced to work much harder than usual.
- Clubbed Toes and Fingers
When sufficient oxygen is not delivered to the blood, the result is clubbing of the toes and fingers. This is characterized by swelling and widening of the toes and fingers. In advanced stages, the toenails and fingernails can get deformed to oxygen deficiency.
The Latency Duration of Asbestos
Asbestos and most mineral poisoning diseases have a long latency period. This means that the illness can develop many years after initial exposure. In many of the asbestos cases, the symptoms may take about 20 to 30 years before they are detected. This is from the time someone was exposed. The latency duration is pegged on the severity of the exposure.
Insulation workers and asbestos miners suffer severe exposure. Typically, the latency period is between 12 to 20 years for these workers. For workers who are not exposed for long, the latency period can stretch to 30 years.
Clinical testing and imaging scans are used to detect the signs of asbestos exposure. This can be done before the advanced symptoms begin to show. If you suspect asbestos exposure, you need to seek medical attention sooner rather than later.
Managing The Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure
The only way to prevent asbestos exposure is to stay away from exposed areas. Patients can manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life by:
- Staying hydrated
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Exercising regularly to improve oxygen and blood flow
- Avoiding air pollution if you work in high-risk areas
- Getting adequate rest to avoid fatigue.
- Preventing respiratory diseases such as flu by observing high hygiene standards.
High-Risk Asbestos Occupations
Another way to prevent exposure is to be aware of the high-risk occupations. Workers in the construction, railroad, shipbuilding, and automotive industries face a higher risk of exposure. These workers record the highest numbers of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and asbestos pleural disease. The risk of exposure also extends to family members of these workers. Asbestos-related diseases can be brought into homes through clothing, shoes, hair, and skin. In addition to these high-risk occupations, asbestos can be found in commercial and residential buildings, warehouses and any buildings that were constructed in the 1980s and before this period.
The signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure may mirror other respiratory diseases. It is essential for people to seek diagnostic treatment. This will help detect the exposure in good time, and you can take preventative measures to manage the symptoms and to improve the quality of life. Medication is also administered to help deal with the symptoms.