5 Things You Should Do If You’ve Been Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of mesothelioma and asbestosis, both deadly diseases that necessitate rigorous treatment. 

If you are exposed to asbestos, it is critical that you consult with your doctor and plan your next steps.

“If you have a history of asbestos exposure, I recommend discussing it further with your primary care physician,” said radiation oncologist Dr. Rupesh Kotecha to The Mesothelioma Center. “They will review your medical history, inquire about potential symptoms, order any necessary tests, and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist.”

There is no such thing as safe asbestos exposure, and signs of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases might take 20 to 60 years to manifest. However, if you are aware that you have been exposed to asbestos or have a history of interaction with asbestos-containing materials, you can take the following five precautions to protect your health. 

Inform Your Doctor About Your Asbestos Exposure Early

Informing your primary care physician or health care team about your asbestos exposure is a simple but critical step in illness prevention. 

Arti Shukla, Ph.D., an asbestos and mesothelioma researcher, told The Mesothelioma Center that she thought someone’s first priority should be following asbestos exposure. 

“My advice to someone who comes to know their history of asbestos exposure or realization of any asbestos exposure is to go and see the doctor first,” Shukla added. “Health, in my opinion, comes first.” Everything else is incidental.” 

Telling your doctor is critical if you worked with asbestos-containing materials, were exposed at a construction or industrial site, or were near someone who had asbestos on them. 

“You should notify your primary care provider and request that the social history be documented in the chart for all providers to see.” Dr. Jeffrey Velotta, a thoracic surgeon, told The Mesothelioma Center, “They need to specifically document what kind of asbestos exposure and for how long.” “The more detailed the description a patient can give their PCP, the better.”

Continue with the Recommended Screening Tests

When you tell your doctor about your asbestos exposure, it becomes part of your medical history and permanent record. All of your doctors will then know when to begin screening for asbestos-related disorders and how regularly to follow up.

Mesothelioma specialists are professionals in the detection and treatment of asbestos-related diseases. 

“If you have been exposed to asbestos, talk to your doctor about getting a screening CT scan for lung cancer and mesothelioma, or see a doctor who specializes in asbestos diseases,” said Dr. Raja Flores, a thoracic surgeon.  

The treatment of asbestos-related disorders should begin as soon as possible. Patients with stage 1 mesothelioma had a 21-month life expectancy after surgery, compared to those with stage 4, the most advanced form, who have a life expectancy of 12 months. 

“There is no screening test [specifically] for mesothelioma,” Velotta explained.

Mesothelioma professionals, on the other hand, are aware of the risk factors and warning indications of asbestos-related disorders. 

“Tell your PCP if you have a family history of lung or other cancers, as that can also be a risk factor,” he advises. 

Knowing your asbestos exposure history ensures that your healthcare providers know what to check for throughout each of your appointments. They will be more aware of potential respiratory concerns and will be able to spot red flags that may indicate an increased risk of getting mesothelioma. 

Smoking, for example, decreases your body’s ability to respond to asbestos. Smokers with a history of asbestos exposure are 28 times more likely to die from lung cancer than the general population. 

For smokers between the ages of 55 and 80, low-dose CT scans are the recommended screening test. Your doctor may recommend regular screening tests such as chest X-rays, bronchoscopies, or pulmonary function tests if you have a history of asbestos exposure or a family history of lung cancer. 

Keep an eye out for Early Mesothelioma Symptoms

According to Velotta, the amount and duration of asbestos exposure influence the time it takes to develop signs of asbestos-related disease. 

“It is still uncommon to develop mesothelioma from even long-term asbestos exposure,” Velotta said. “However, when exposed for decades, you have an increased risk of developing a malignancy or lung condition, and the more frequent, the greater the risk.”

“If someone has been exposed to asbestos, the most important thing to consider is how long and how frequently they were exposed,” he noted. “The longer and more repetitive your exposure, as well as direct contact or higher doses of asbestos, the greater your risk of developing asbestos-related cancer.” 

Although asbestos-related diseases take several years to develop, it is critical to recognize the early warning signals and keep an eye out for any growing symptoms. 

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Chest ache
  • a dry cough
  • Fatigue, fever, and muscle weakness
  • Swelling of the face and arms as a result of shortness of breath
  • Unknown cause of weight loss

Asbestos-related lung cancer exhibits similar symptoms, but patients may additionally experience hoarseness, recurrent respiratory infections, and blood coughing. 

According to Velotta, alerting your doctor of your symptoms is the quickest method to receive testing for asbestos-related disorders. 

“If the patient is having any pulmonary or respiratory symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or feeling slight pain or heaviness on one side of the chest, they should notify their PCP immediately,” he stated. 

“The first thing to get would be a chest X-ray and then go from there,” he continued. “The most important thing you can do if you have significant asbestos exposure is to tell your PCP and then don’t wait if you develop symptoms or weight loss, which is another concerning symptom.”

Many therapies, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, can help to alleviate symptoms. An early diagnosis ensures that you have the most treatment options and the highest chance of living longer with mesothelioma. 

Avoid Potential Asbestos Exposure

Because the risk of asbestos disease grows with exposure, understanding the possible hazards of asbestos-containing items is an important approach to reducing the odds of acquiring an illness. 

Because of its low cost and ability to endure high temperatures, asbestos was widely used in numerous industrial and domestic goods during the twentieth century. Asbestos is still present in many older items and structures.

Because the fibers are less likely to be airborne in undisturbed or nonfriable asbestos materials, the dangers are decreased. Friable asbestos, on the other hand, splits or crumbles fast, and disrupting the material can unleash millions of asbestos fibers that are easily inhaled. 

Automotive parts are examples of older asbestos-containing items.

  • Cement Gaskets
  • Domestic appliances
  • Insulation
  • The powder talcum
  • Textiles Tiles
  • Vinyl-based items

Knowing where asbestos may be lurking is critical for avoiding additional exposure events and lowering the chance of acquiring an asbestos-related disease. 

Awareness of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare disease that can be fatal. Unfortunately, many people are uninformed of the role asbestos plays in the development of mesothelioma and other diseases such as lung cancer and asbestosis. 

Awareness is critical because it draws attention to the resources required to combat these heinous diseases. Funding and involvement are required for research, which is the only method for doctors and researchers to discover novel medicines. 

Raising awareness spreads information regarding asbestos-related disorders. It emphasizes the concerns of the mesothelioma community in comparison to malignancies that receive greater attention, such as breast or brain cancer. 

Asbestos Awareness Week, held in early April, is one event that allows individuals and groups to raise awareness of the global health catastrophe caused by asbestos toxicity. 

Mesothelioma Awareness Day, held on September 26, raises awareness and educates the public about asbestos exposure and the need for an asbestos ban.

On Mesothelioma Awareness Day, supporters and mesothelioma warriors wear blue wristbands or ribbons and participate in community events. iWalk4Meso, Miles for Meso, and Kayaking 4 Meso are all fundraising events for asbestos research and education. 

Every year, 100,000 individuals worldwide die as a result of asbestos-related diseases. Raising awareness and being a supportive part of the mesothelioma community will help save more lives from needless asbestos exposure. 

If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos, your support could mean the world to other survivors and families.