Millions of Americans have been exposed to asbestos in the past century as the use of asbestos as a fire-retardant insulator grew in popularity in industrial, manufacturing and commercial industries. Unfortunately, anyone who worked in those industries – along with their families – commonly inhaled asbestos fibers, because protective masks and clothing were not generally required or distributed.
It wasn’t until years after asbestos became the insulator of choice that many workers started to develop mesothelioma – a cancer that affects the lining around the lungs, abdomen and heart. Researchers have now concluded that exposure to asbestos is the foremost cause of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma cancer is generally caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, commonly used in shipyards, asbestos mines, asbestos mills, power plants and oil refineries. However, there are many other ways that people were – and still can be – exposed to asbestos fibers, such as:
- Working in the construction, or construction demolition, industry (many homes and office buildings still contain asbestos).
- Working in the auto industry (brake and clutch pads are made with asbestos).
- Making home repairs (non-professionals who make renovations on their own homes).
- Working or living near an asbestos mine.
There have also been mesothelioma cases reported that involve family members who developed the disease secondhand simply by washing the clothing of someone who was exposed to asbestos dust. The fact is that anyone can become exposed to asbestos by inhaling its microscopic fibers. Once those fibers get lodged in a person’s mesothelial linings, they can inflame and irritate cells, change the natural cell division process and eventually – up to 50 years later – develop into cancer.
There are generally three types of mesothelioma – pleural, peritoneal and pericardial. While the symptoms for each vary somewhat, general symptoms common to all can include decreased appetite, night sweats and weight loss.
- Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms. Pleural mesothelioma affects the mesothelial lining surrounding the lungs and is the most common type of mesothelioma. Common symptoms include weight loss, shortness of breath, pain under the rib cage or chest and a constant cough.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the mesothelial lining around the intestines (abdomen) and is the second most common type of mesothelioma. Common symptoms include abdominal swelling, weight loss, nausea, fever, bowel obstruction, blood clotting, anemia, mild or severe abdominal pain, gastrointestinal issues (such as diarrhea / constipation) and the formation of tissue mass in the abdomen.
- Pericardial Mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma affects the mesothelial lining of the heart (chest cavity) and causes fluid to build up between that lining and the heart itself. It is the third most common type of mesothelioma. Common symptoms include chest pain, irregular heartbeat, irregular breathing patterns, cough and fatigue.
Like any form of cancer, mesothelioma can spread to other parts of the body and cause additional symptoms, such as body pains, difficulty in swallowing and inflammation of the neck or face. Asbestos symptoms can often be difficult to distinguish from the common cold or everyday aches and pains. In addition, since many of those symptoms don’t appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure, making a timely diagnosis of mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-exposure injury can be nearly impossible.
Do you or a family member have legal questions about your mesothelioma claim? Call Joye Law Firm. You can reach us at (877) 936-9707 or fill out a free online consultation form and talk to an injury lawyer in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, or Clinton today.