Asbestosis is progressive and, for the most part, irreversible. Respiratory impairment worsens with time, even if exposure to asbestos has ceased. Asbestosis is usually found in asbestos workers and not in the general public. People with asbestosis have shortness of breath, often along with a cough. Asbestos brings on Mesothelioma, and Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which affects mesothelial tissue in the lungs, peritoneum or pericardium.
The biggest concern about mesothelioma is that it can arise both from visceral and parietal peritoneum. It is diagnosed in advanced stages in most cases, and it often takes considerable time to arrive at the correct diagnosis, as the mean symptoms-to-diagnosis time reported is 122 days.
The most frequently reported initial symptoms are abdominal pain, anorexia, marked weight loss, and ascites (fluid in the abdomen). Less frequently, night sweats and hypercoagulability. Clinical presentation with fever of unknown origin, intestinal obstruction, or surgical emergency (due to acute inflammatory lesions) have been reported. Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs.
The scary part about this illness, is that mesothelioma has a much longer latency period compared with lung cancer (40 years versus 15-20 years), and mesothelioma is therefore likely to be found among workers who were first exposed to asbestos at an early age. Mesothelioma is always fatal. Mesothelioma has also been found in individuals who were exposed to asbestos only once decades earlier. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos.
Exposure to asbestos has also been associated with an increased incidence of esophageal, kidney, laryngeal, pharyngeal, and buccal cavity cancers. As with other known chronic occupational diseases, disease associated with asbestos generally appears about twenty years following the first occurrence of exposure: There are no known acute effects associated with exposure to asbestos. Exposure to ozone for several hours at relatively low concentrations has been found to significantly reduce lung function and induce respiratory inflammation in normal, healthy people during exercise.
This decrease in lung function generally is accompanied by symptoms including chest pain, coughing, sneezing, and pulmonary congestion. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a significant cause of lung cancers in people who themselves do not use tobacco. Between 3000 and 6000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States are caused by exposure to ETS.
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