Asbestos is composed of heat-resistant fibers. It comes from a Greek word, which means ‘unquenchable’ and is present in a group of six naturally occurring minerals. It is unaffected by even the most intense heat, and acids do not affect its fibers, despite their delicacy.
Its indestructible nature allows it to withstand degradation in practically any environment. There are different types of asbestos, each with its own set of properties; Chrysotile, Crocidolite, Amosite, Actinolite, Tremolite, and Anthophyllite.
Asbestos is notorious for its toxic properties, so its use is only permitted if it makes up less than 1 percent of the final product.
Years ago, asbestos was called the ‘Magic Mineral’ due to its unique chemical composition and physical qualities. Asbestos products include floor tiles, road signs, insulation mattresses, and sewage lines. Besides, items made up of asbestos are as follows:
- Ropes and yarns
- Insulation partition boards
- Cement sheets
- Millboard and papers
- Textured coating
- Putties and sealants
As valuable as asbestos is for various stuff, prolonged exposure to this material is hazardous for humans. People who come into contact with asbestos tend to inhale its fumes once it’s heated, leading to mesothelioma, an incurable form of lung cancer.
What’s more, people in contact with asbestos rarely know about its toxicity and don’t know what to look for until it’s too late because the damage to the lungs is only apparent after several years.
In addition to causing mesothelioma, asbestos is also responsible for lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer. Other diseases caused by asbestos include:
- Diffuse pleural thickening
- Pleural plaques and effusions
Once airborne, fibers are easily ingested. It’s critical to avoid disrupting asbestos-containing materials. Those who live near naturally occurring asbestos deposits should avoid touching the contaminated soil. Following is a list of warning signs that could indicate you might be suffering from an asbestos-related disease.
Fatigue is one common symptom in patients with asbestos in their bodies. Chronic tiredness of a different kind- psychologically related chronic fatigue- is caused by experiencing asbestos sickness. If there is any doubt, having a full-body scan is necessary to diagnose if asbestos is the reason for fatigue.
2. Shortness of breath
The fibers of asbestos can irritate the lungs once inhaled. The pointed, straight shape of fibers makes it difficult for the body to remove and eliminate. It causes scarring in the lungs that makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the bloodstream.
These fibers then inhibit breathing, which leads to shortness of breath, which is an apparent sign of an underlying disease. A CT or MRI can help diagnose if an asbestos-related illness caused shortness of breath.
3. Abdominal swelling and distention
A painful feeling associated with an unusually larger stomach area is a sign of worry. Exposure to asbestos results in the inflammation of the tissue in the abdomen. Fibers can travel from the gastrointestinal tract to the peritoneum or through the lymphatic system.
The abdominal cells become inflamed, thickening the peritoneal lining and start accumulating fluid. Patients report feelings of swelling in the stomach accompanied by gas and pain.
4. Bowel Obstructions
The tiny fibers can infect the digestive system and bowel. If it accompanies peritoneal mesothelioma, the condition can be excruciating. The soreness and discomfort are increased by abdominal distention. Ascites, or a fluid buildup in the abdomen, can lead to intestinal obstruction.
Increased fluid retention causes the belly to continue to enlarge, putting continuous pressure on the internal organs. It results in nausea and pain. If identified, bowel obstruction is a sign of worry.
5. Weight loss
Weight loss can occur due to several reasons. Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing foods can result in weight loss. People suffering from asbestos-related diseases feel pain due to an afflicted abdominal cavity. They may refuse to eat or experience pain after reduced appetite. Furthermore, stomach strain worsens digestion, resulting in weight loss in patients. Consuming more food in small portions, avoiding protein-rich foods, and delivering food straight into the stomach can be implemented for maintaining weight.
6. Dry cough or wheezing
Due to scar tissue accumulating in the lungs over time, individuals have persistent cough even 40 years after the first encounter. Coughing can start at the early ages of mesothelioma and get worse as the disease progresses. Due to asbestos, the pleural lining starts to thicken and exerts pressure on the lungs.
This pressure results in dry cough, breathlessness, and chest pain. Repeatedly coughing produces irritation and inflammation in the airways, making cough more severe and frequent.
7. Clubbed fingers
Clubbed fingers affect around half of the population suffering from asbestosis. The tips of the fingers become deformed, swollen, and may resemble a box. Instead of asbestos fibers, the illness appears to be caused by the biological effects of asbestosis. They usually appear early and don’t go away.
Increased blood flow to the finger area causes fluid to build and bulge in the soft tissues at the fingertips, resulting in nail clubbing. It’s an indication of more severe asbestosis and is connected to a higher risk of death and disease progression.
Asbestos is a highly toxic element, and the easiest way to prevent diseases from asbestos is to limit your exposure to it. As long as asbestos is confined and undisturbed, there is no risk of exposure. There’s a risk of asbestos fibers discharged into the air and inhaled when asbestos-containing products are damaged or heated.
It also depends on the duration of asbestos exposure. Moreover, smokers with asbestosis have a higher risk of developing cancer. The most reliable test for confirming asbestos exposure is a lung biopsy that detects fibers in the body.