What is Asbestos Poisoning?
What is Asbestos Poisoning?
Asbestos poisoning occurs when the microscopic fibers that asbestos consist of are inhaled or ingested. This can have a devastating effect on human health.
The effects of asbestos poisoning is not immediate as is the case with many other poisons. When you inhale or swallow it you probably won't even notice it. It is invisible to humans and light enough to stay in air born for a long time.
When asbestos gets into the human body there are no natural means by which it can be removed and it remains lodged in the lungs. The first symptoms of asbestos poisoning are nothing severe, and includes a dry cough, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath.
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Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and Lung Cancer
The problem with asbestos poisoning is that the symptoms take a long time to appear, and when they finally do appear people don't seek medical help immediately, and therefor the disease is often discovered too late. The three most common diseases caused by asbestos poisoning is asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Asbestosis happens when the asbestos fibers gets embedded in the inner lung tissue which causes it to harden and lose it's ability to absorb oxygen. As time passes lung capacity is weakened and the victim loses their ability to engage in cardiovascular exercise.
Mesothelioma develops on the outer layer of the lungs where malignant cells start multiplying uncontrollably. It is a rare and deadly form of cancer that is solely attributed to asbestos poisoning. While Asbestosis takes several exposures to develop, mesothelioma can develop after very short exposure to asbestos.
Lung cancer can be caused by mesothelioma tumors that spread to the lungs, but it can also be caused by asbestos poisoning in the lungs or be a contributing factor to lung cancer. For instance smokers are at higher risk to get lung cancer from asbestos poisoning.
All these diseases takes a long time to develop. Mesothelioma for instance takes anywhere from 20-40 years to develop. Most of the time when these diseases are discovered they have already developed into a major health problem.
Prognosis for Asbestos Poisoning
The prognosis for asbestos poisoning is not good.
Both asbestosis and mesothelioma are incurable diseases. Asbestosis gets slowly worse over an extended period, while mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy.The average survival time for a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma is 12-15 months.
Lung cancer is incurable as well, but many patients live long and active lives if it is treated at an early stage.
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