WHAT IS ASBESTOSIS AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE BODY?
This disease is a chronic condition of the lungs. It can cause shortness of breath, and possibly even respiratory failure. The problems associated with the condition are caused by scarring in the lungs and a slow buildup of fibrous tissue in the organ. Over time, scarring and tissue buildup expose the victim to greater risks, so it must be closely monitored once detected. Unfortunately, its nonspecific symptoms and their slow onset mean that most people are not diagnosed until many years after the disease begins to affect the body.
WHAT IS SO DEADLY ABOUT ASBESTOSIS?
This condition can lead to even deadlier diseases, including mesothelioma or other malignancies. It can also greatly reduce a victim’s lung capacity, which can be dangerous during even minor bursts of physical activity. Respiratory failure is a possibility during these periods of physical activity, and if medical help is not available, death is common.
The biggest concern with this disease, though, is that it can go undetected for decades. Its symptoms can appear similar to mundane respiratory infections, so it is often misdiagnosed. Its diagnosis can only be confirmed with imaging technology and a sharp eye, as the fibrous tissue shows faintly on an x-ray. Even with a positive diagnosis, though, treatment is usually limited, with focus on removing the patient from any environmental dangers that could cause the condition to worsen.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF ASBESTOSIS?
Nearly all cases are caused by exposure to asbestos, either over a long period of time, or brief periods of extreme exposure. This material is a silicate that is prized for the microscopic crystalline structures it produces. These crystal tubules can be added to building materials to improve durability or heat resistance and were used in many industries during the 20th century. While they are being phased out quickly, their ubiquity means that it will be many more years before all sources of the material are completely removed. Until then, construction workers, aircraft and vehicle mechanics, electricians, shipyard workers, railroad workers, miners and building engineers are at a high risk of developing the disease.
When disturbed, this material is easily suspended in the air where it can be readily inhaled. The crystal tubules are extremely small and are actually comparable in size to bacteria. As a result, they are not removed from the body before they settle into the lungs. This provokes an immune response from the body that results in connective tissue building up in the area. The body is incapable of removing the crystals, though, so more and more connective tissue builds up until it creates a plaque like structure around the lungs. This is what causes the disease’s symptoms and can progress to mesothelioma with enough time.
WHAT SHOULD A PERSON DO IF THEY HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH THIS DISEASE
Negligence is almost always a factor when this disease is discovered, so many have chosen to contact a personal injury attorney after diagnosis to discuss their legal options.