Overview of Asbestos-Related Diseases

Overview of Asbestos-Related Diseases

Asbestos had been used for thousands of years before finally being phased out in the late 20th century. However, millions of people were exposed to the substance in the United States alone. Sadly, because we did not realize the dangers of asbestos until it was too late, many people now suffer from diseases caused by this mineral.

While asbestos is an extremely useful material due to its insulating properties against head, flame, chemicals, electricity, and degradation, it is also very hazardous. One supposedly great characteristic of asbestos is that it could easily be made into threads and spun into fabrics and added into other things like plastics and concrete. However, this also means that it can easily break off and come into contact with our bodies.

Because asbestos proliferates so easily, it has been linked to a number of different disorders, including:

Mesothelioma. This is a specific type of lung cancer that affects the pleura, or the tissue lining the lungs, as well as the abdomen, or peritoneum.

Lung cancer. Lung cancer occurs when a tumor grows in the lung tissue. Many tumors that start in the lungs metastasize into other parts of the body, including the liver and brain, which makes it an especially deadly disease. 

Asbestosis. This describes the process by which the inside of the lungs becomes scarred due to asbestos exposure. This can disrupt your breathing and cause you to be constantly short of breath.

Pleural plaques. This occurs when asbestos fibers irritate the lungs. They form spots of scar tissue, or fibrosis, made of deposits of collagen.

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Pleural thickening. When pleural plaques cover your lungs, the disorder is termed pleural thickening. This calcification or thickening of the pleura can inhibit proper breathing.

Pleural effusions. These happen when fluid collects in between the lining of the lungs and the walls of the chest cavity itself.

Other cancers. Contact with asbestos has also been linked to several other cancers besides that of the lungs. Larynx, upper throat, kidney, esophagus, gallbladder, gastrointestinal, and colorectal.

Asbestos warts. When asbestos fibers break off, they can become lodged in the skin. The skin then becomes irritated and inflames, and it grows over the splinters. This can form callous-like warts that may be unsightly and embarrassing.

While not all of the above diseases are deadly in and of themselves, they can often lead to greater problems or more serious disorders, such as mesothelioma. If you or someone you know has been illegally exposed to asbestos and has developed mesothelioma, you should speak to a lawyer about your rights.