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Asbestos - The Fiber Disease

Ongoing exposure to asbestos fibres leaves a permanent mark on the lungs of a person. It causes scarring of the lung tissue. Exposure is exposure; it is not that less exposure is acceptable asbestos exposure in any measure can cause lung cancer. Illnesses do not always happen with our knowledge. There are many kinds of illnesses that catch us off-guard; most of them often air-borne, resulting from the air we inhale.

The importance of fresh, pure air is indeed often underestimated. Interestingly, even the presence of a relatively small (not to mention, invisible) mineral fibre in the air that we breathe is sufficient to render damage to our health. Asbestos is one such mineral. Asbestos, which is known for its heat and acid resistance and is very strong, can dangerously affect us. When it ages, asbestos begins to break and the fibres find their way into the air that we inhale, thereby making it deadly.

The fibres enter the lungs and stay there for the life of him. This disease is called asbestosis or mesothelioma. It takes about 20 to 40 years for asbestos symptoms to surface. Sadly, all those who get asbestosis die the death rate is 100% - there is no cure to it.

All kinds of asbestos are carcinogens. Children are particularly prone to get asbestosis or mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos. Products like floor tiles, ceiling tiles, sprayed on texture ceilings, pipe wrappings, boiler insulation, fire proofing, roof tiles, roof tar and heaters have asbestos in them.

Since it is extensively used in building constructions, people working in the mining, pipefitting, shipbuilding etc are likely to be infected. In the beginning, the individual may only experience a chronic dry cough which may eventually lead to shortness of breath and chest pain. Mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. An estimated 80% of mesothelioma patients have a long history of asbestos exposure. Importance should be given on the identification of genetic risk factors for harmful mesothelioma. The toxic fibres that lead to cancer can be a result of mechanical effects such as interference during chromosome segregation, generation of reaction, oxygen species and local and systemic immunosuppression.

The patient may also feel severe stabbing pains in the chest or abdomen. Its symptoms often occur after 35-50 years of contact with asbestos. If an individual displays any symptoms of mesothelioma, they should see a doctor immediately. It is diagnosed through a chest X-ray, complete blood count, biopsy or a thoracotomy. Sadly, asbestosis or mesothelioma is incurable. It is always best to keep a trace of your detailed history of work activities or any other exposure to toxic dusts as it could be years before that one is affected by it. Wearing clothes of a person who has worked with asbestos is not advisable as you could inhale it through the clothes.

Everyone who comes in contact with asbestos does not get lung disease and cancer. It is diagnosed only when your history of exposure fits into it or an indicative chest X-ray and physical findings or symptoms of debilitating lung fibrosis are observed. If you work in an environment which requires you to work with asbestos, it is very essential to take as many recommended safety precautions as possible. Make sure you wear approved face masks and breathing instruments because they filter out the asbestos fibres. Be very careful when working with asbestos it can take away your life.

See to it that all the area of your body is covered. Sometimes work place may not only be the means through which the disease develops in you. It could even happen in your home or on the street. You could also be exposing yourself to asbestos without knowing. Since most buildings are products of this fibre, you never know when you are coming into contact with this deadly mineral. Though there is no permanent cure to it, there are treatments done for asbestos-related diseases. They include infection treatment, vaccination and standard cancer treatments.

The basic aim of the treatments is to fill the lungs with oxygen making it difficult for the fibres to continue their dangerous activities. Those prone to asbestos-related diseases should give up smoking if they are smokers. Those suffering from mesothelioma have a number of various treatment options. However, the most common kind of treatment is surgery. Here, the doctors try to take off as much of the cancer as possible.

Palliative surgery is done if the disease is diagnosed to be in its late stages. This one is used to control the symptoms as the fluids in the lung gather or the tumour may be pressing against the lung walls. Another form of treatment is radiation which works by firing high energy X-ray at the tumour. It is used to kill cancer cells and shrink the tumour. However, there are side affects to this, such as vomiting, nausea, and general fatigue.

Submitted by:

Chris Freville

The author, Chris Freville, has many more tips and advice on asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma




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