Coughing All The Time? It Could Be Asbestos Poisoning
Asbestos is a material that was once used in the construction of buildings. Hints that it might not be safe began surfacing in the 1960s and 1970s. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that the substance got banned in the US. Since then, the number of cases of asbestos exposure has increased. The worrying thing about the disease is that the symptoms often don’t show up until years later. It takes a long time for the fibers from asbestos to infiltrate the lungs and trigger changes in the DNA of lung cells.
And here’s the problem. Many workers who were exposed to asbestos at work, haven’t been informed by their employers. They wind up with mesothelioma, a cancer associated with asbestos. But they don’t bring a mesothelioma case, often because it’s not obvious who was at fault.
The Symptoms Can Be Confusing
Knowing whether you have mesothelioma is difficult. The problem is that it is a relatively uncommon disease. Physicians are used to seeing things like lung cancer, with around 200,000 new cases every year. But they’re not used to observing mesothelioma since there are only around 2,000 new cases each year.
Back in 2011, a study tried to define the most common symptoms associated with mesothelioma cases. It found that around 36 percent had a cough that just never seemed to go away. It also found that 79 percent had a shortness of breath all the time and 64 percent had chronic chest pains. When the researchers looked inside the lungs, they found that 90 percent had what are called “pleural effusions.” That means that subjects had an excess fluid buildup around their lungs. Finally, around 30 percent had unexplained weight loss.
The range of symptoms is, therefore, highly varied. Different people experience the effects of chronic asbestos exposure differently.
Often in the early stages of the disease, no symptoms are present at all. The condition is only detected when X-rays are carried out for unrelated reasons, like accidents. If symptoms are present at this early stage, they are usually mild. Patients may experience some shortness of breath or chest pain, but nothing that appears critical.
If the tumor is left, however, things can quickly get worse. In stage two of the disease, victims can start to feel pain in their abdomen and their shoulders. Difficulty with breathing and coughing can get progressively worse.
Testing For Mesothelioma
Recognizing the symptoms early is important. If the cancer is left for too long, the prognosis is bleak. As the disease shifts from phase II to stages III and IV, the chances of survival go down dramatically.
Because the disease is quite unusual, testing for it takes a long time. Your doctor will carry out multiple tests, and you’ll consult with many different health professionals along the way. In the early stages of treatment, you’ll visit a lung specialist, radiologist, and a surgeon. Then you’ll have to do a CT scan to see exactly where the tumor is in the lung. If the cancer is caught early, the chances of survival are higher. The problem is that most patients don’t catch the symptoms early and wait until things get dangerous. Often by that stage, it’s too late.