Asbestos Exposure Symptoms

Asbestos Exposure - Symptoms & Health Effects

Many people are surprised that asbestos exposure is still a real threat in today’s day and age. However, asbestos is still found in many products and buildings throughout the U.S. Asbestos also occurs naturally in the environment, so exposure can occur from everyday environmental contact, or, more likely, from disturbing products containing asbestos fibers.

Construction workers and weekend warriors who spend a lot of time doing renovations on older buildings are particularly susceptible to health problems related to asbestos. It is now well known that  breathing in asbestos fibers over a long period can cause a variety of serious health problems.

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, you may be wondering how much asbestos exposure is harmful.  Since asbestos is a known carcinogen, any amount of exposure is concerning, but according to the EPA, in general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects. Smoking will almost certainly worsen asbestos exposure symptoms.

It can be difficult to pinpoint an asbestos-related health condition unless you are certain you’ve been exposed. It is possible to find asbestos containing material in the following items:

  • Construction debris
  • Pipes
  • Gaskets
  • Flooring
  • Mastic
  • Roofing material
  • Insulation
  • Cement
  • Paint
  • Plaster
  • Caulk
  • Glazing

Asbestos can also be found in drinking water, soil and air. The only way to know for sure if a substance contains asbestos is to have it tested by a certified laboratory.

Since asbestos was manufactured and used in countless products throughout the 20th century, and symptoms can take decades to appear, some of the folks who were exposed in the late 1900s are just now showing symptoms.

Although there are various health conditions and symptoms related to asbestos exposure, the most serious of these are: lung cancer, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung), and asbestosis (a progressive, long-term disease of the lungs).

What are Common Asbestos Exposure Symptoms?

As mentioned earlier, some asbestos exposure symptoms will take time to manifest, sometimes showing up 10 to 40 years later. Some common health symptoms typical of asbestos exposure may include the following:

  • shortness of breath
  • crackling sound when you breathe
  • tightness in your chest
  • persistent dry cough
  • coughing up blood
  • chest pain
  • appetite loss
  • weight loss
  • difficulty swallowing
  • anemia
  • finger clubbing (enlarged fingertips)
  • nail deformities

Symptoms will vary from person to person, but if you know you’ve been exposed to asbestos and are concerned about your health, you should see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

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