Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Diseases

Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases include:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Wheezing;
  • Persistent cough that becomes worse;
  • Coughing up blood;
  • Painful chest;
  • Struggling to swallow;
  • Swollen neck or face;
  • Weight loss;
  • Finger deformity;
  • Fatigue;
  • Anaemia.

Asbestos is responsible for causing a number of different diseases and this means that the symptoms can often vary depending on the form and severity of the illness. Asbestos-related diseases are most likely to form in the lungs, so early symptoms that do form generally affect the respiratory system.

When the potentially deadly asbestos fibres are inhaled they get stuck in the lungs. The straight and sharp shape of the fibres can cause scarring, inflammation and other irritations that will eventually cause symptoms in the lungs. Something seemingly minor like a persistent cough may be overlooked, but if a person has been exposed to asbestos in the past there is a chance that the two could be linked.

How long does it take for asbestos-related disease symptoms to appear?

One of the most significant factors in the high fatality rate of asbestos-related diseases is that they have a latency period of 20 to 30 years. This means that the symptoms of asbestosis and other illnesses will often develop within a person for this long length of time before causing significant irritation. Unfortunately, this means that by the time the disease can be properly diagnosed it has often reached an advanced stage that makes it incredibly difficult to treat.

This happens because the scarring that occurs as a result of the lodged asbestos fibres gradually gets worse over time and prohibits the ability of the lungs to do their most important function – push oxygen in and pump carbon dioxide out. This is what eventually causes symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath during physical exertion and other lung irritations.

What are the causes of asbestos-related disease symptoms?

Scarring in the lungs as a result of the lodged asbestos fibres will eventually reduce lung function, which is a contributory factor in persistent coughing and tiredness during exercise. Perhaps more significantly, it also puts more pressure on the heart which can lead to the development of more severe lung or heart diseases.

The increased pressure on the heart is also responsible for higher blood pressure which can eventually contribute to swelling in the neck and face and difficulty swallowing. This is because of the fluid that builds up around the neck and mouth, or even internal organs like the abdomen creating additional bloating. This can help cause a loss of appetite and weight loss, which is another symptom of most asbestos-related diseases.

What can I do to relieve symptoms of asbestos-related diseases?

Diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma still have no known cure but there are some medications and treatments available to ease symptoms like persistent coughing and other general pains. These can range from incredibly complex surgical procedures like lung transplants, to other lifestyle based choices like stopping smoking.

Herbal supplements, like slippery elm bark, are natural treatments for irritating coughs and sore throats. These are occasionally administered to some patients with asbestos-related diseases.

If you would like to learn more about asbestos-related illnesses and the different support groups available, please get in touch with us.