October 26, 2011

How to Diagnose Asbestos Poisoning

A number of people exhibit symptoms of asbestos poisoning or its deadly cousin, mesothelioma, after years of working in manufacturing jobs or careers dealing with various forms of friable asbestos. Although it is a natural mineral fiber, breathing in the tiny particles from asbestos dust results in the fibers adhering to the lining of the lungs and greatly increases the risk of lung disease and cancer. Mesothelioma is the name given to malignant cancers started by asbestos poisoning,


Search your job history for repeated exposure to friable asbestos. For asbestos to be a poison, it must be in a breathable form. Friable asbestos easily crumbles and the tiny featherweight particles quickly disperse in the air. Some examples of friable asbestos are blown-in insulation around pipes, acoustical ceiling panels and wallboard and joint compound manufactured before 1978. Although now banned in this form, many homes still contain this dangerous textile.
Compare your symptoms to your work history if you suffered exposure to friable insulation on an ongoing basis. Keep in mind that you may not suffer the ill side effects for many years.
Consider asbestos disease as an explanation for medical symptoms that include difficulty drawing a full breath or exhaling fully, along with a chronic cough. This is a common first symptom of asbestos poisoning but since it also mimics many other respiratory diseases, it may go undiagnosed until other symptoms appear.
Pay attention if others mention that you sound a little hoarse. In the early stages the hoarseness may come and go but it will gradually worsen if the cause is asbestos poisoning.
Suspect asbestos poisoning if the above symptoms appear within 20 years of prolonged exposure to friable asbestos and medications for respiratory infections and flu symptoms have not cleared up the problem. In addition, coughing up blood, weight loss or chest pain, suggests the asbestos disease may have developed into mesothelioma.
Schedule an appointment with a physician who is familiar with testing for asbestos poisoning and the cancers related to the disease. The doctor will record your work history and will order pulmonary function tests as well as chest x-rays. If he suspects an asbestos disease or mesothelioma, he will likely order a Computerized Tomography Scan (CT scan) to make an accurate diagnosis.