What Are the First Signs of Asbestos Poisoning?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in many products, including building materials and insulation. However, inhaling asbestos fibers has been known to cause serious health problems like mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the chest or abdomen lining).
Asbestos poisoning can develop slowly over time or quickly after a single exposure. The first signs of asbestos poisoning may not appear for years after exposure to the toxic material. Over time, the symptoms become more severe. Additionally, the first signs of asbestos poisoning may be similar to those of other conditions, so it’s important to see your doctor if you have symptoms. Your doctor will perform an examination and do some tests to determine if you have asbestos poisoning.
What Does Asbestos Poisoning Feel Like?
Asbestos poisoning is not a sudden or rapid process. It takes years for symptoms to develop, and the symptoms may be so minor that you might not even notice them at first. The most common symptoms of asbestos exposure include:
- Chronic cough and other respiratory problems: Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer as well as scarring and inflammation in the lungs. Over time, this can lead to chronic coughing and shortness of breath.
- Skin problems such as rashes, sores, and skin discoloration: Asbestos fibers can get lodged under your skin, causing inflammation or irritation. This can lead to rashes or sores that don’t heal easily. Asbestos fibers can also trigger skin discoloration (they are sometimes used as dyes in cosmetics and hair products with disastrous results for their users).
- Stomach problems like nausea and vomiting after eating certain foods: Eating food containing high levels of asbestos fibers can cause stomach aches and nausea. It may also lead to vomiting after meals.
- Chronic fatigue: You might feel exhausted even after a full night’s sleep.
- Frequent colds, flu, and pneumonia: You might be more susceptible to catching a common cold.
- Chest pain and shortness of breath: This may feel like a tight band around your chest.
- Mouth ulcers (sores): You might have sores on your tongue or inside your mouth that don’t heal easily.
- Diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal cramps: Your bowel movements may change from regular to irregular. You may also experience bloating or abdominal pain.
- Muscle pain and body weakness: You might have difficulty moving or lifting your arms above your head because of muscle weakness and pain.
How Long Does it Take for Asbestos Symptoms to Show Up?
It can take up to 20 years after exposure to asbestos for mesothelioma symptoms to appear. It’s uncommon for symptoms to appear less than 15 years after exposure, and some cases have taken 60 to 70 years to show symptoms.
Most patients diagnosed with asbestos-related disorders, such as mesothelioma, are in their 60s or 70s. After being frequently exposed to asbestos at work early in life, it takes decades for the diseases to take hold of their bodies.
The reason asbestos takes so long to show symptoms is its long latency period – the disease usually doesn’t develop until years after the asbestos exposure. It takes time for the asbestos fibers to cause damage to your body. When you inhale or swallow asbestos, it sticks in your lungs or digestive tract. After years of being stuck there, these fibers eventually break down and release chemicals into your body that cause inflammation and cell death. This can lead to mesothelioma or other diseases.
You don’t have to wait that long to get tested. If you are exposed to asbestos regularly or have been exposed in the past, it’s vital to get regular checkups with your doctor.
How Do I Know if I Have Inhaled Asbestos?
The best way to know if you’ve inhaled asbestos is to ask your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor can determine if there are asbestos fibers trapped in your lungs by examining your lungs and learning about your employment history. Your doctor may recommend some tests to help confirm your asbestos exposure, including:
- A Chest X-Ray: An X-ray could show signs of scarring or damage to the lungs but can’t tell if there’s asbestos in your body.
- CT Scan of the Lungs: A CT scan is more sensitive and can detect very small amounts of asbestos (and signs of disease) in the lungs using a very low dose of radiation.
- A Lung Function Test: This test shows how well your lungs are working. The results help your doctor determine whether you have any health problems related to asbestos exposure.
Another way to know if you have inhaled asbestos is by watching out for symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood or mucus, and other abnormal symptoms of lung disease. These symptoms may indicate lung cancer or mesothelioma, both of which are linked to inhaling asbestos fibers.
If you think that there’s even a possibility that you’ve breathed in asbestos fibers, see a medical professional right away.
Is There Treatment for Asbestos Poisoning?
Due to the irreversible nature of lung injury from asbestos exposure, there is no cure for asbestosis once it has occurred. However, there are treatments that can help, including:
Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Pulmonary rehabilitation improves your breathing and overall health after you’ve been diagnosed with lung disease. It includes daily exercises, breathing therapy, education about your condition, and medications to control symptoms.
Oxygen Therapy: If you have shortness of breath or low blood oxygen levels, you may be given oxygen through an oxygen mask or nasal cannula (small tubes that fit inside your nostrils). Oxygen therapy can help ease breathing difficulties caused by pulmonary fibrosis and pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the chest cavity).
Inhaler to Ease Breathing: You may need an inhaler if you have chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Inhaled medications help open up the airways in your lungs, making breathing easier.
Painkillers and Anti-Inflammatory Medications: These drugs can reduce pain and swelling in your chest, making it easier for you to breathe properly again.
It’s also critical that you do the following:
- Quit smoking if you are a smoker, as smoking increases lung cancer risk.
- Get vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcal disease, as your lungs are more susceptible to pneumonia and the flu.
Can I Sue Someone for Asbestos Poisoning?
Yes, you can sue for asbestos poisoning to recover damages from the person or entity that exposed you to the substance. To succeed in a lawsuit, you must prove that:
You Were Exposed to Asbestos
The first step is proving you were exposed to asbestos during your lifetime. If you worked in an industry where asbestos exposure was common (such as construction or shipbuilding), this can be relatively easy to prove through your employment records or even logs or journals kept at work sites.
The Exposure Caused the Disease
This can be proven by medical records or other evidence showing that your symptoms are consistent with asbestos-related diseases and weren’t caused by anything else.
The Exposure Was Intentional
You must prove that the exposure was reckless on the part of the defendant (the company or person responsible for your exposure). This is often called “intent” and means not caring whether someone would be harmed, even if there was no direct intent to harm them. For example, if you knew that breathing in asbestos dust could cause asbestosis but failed to warn your asbestos-using employees about this danger, this would be considered reckless.
If you can prove these elements, you may be entitled to compensation for damages sustained due to your illness, including medical costs, lost wages, disability, loss of consortium, and more.
How Do I File a Lawsuit for Asbestos Poisoning?
Since chronic diseases can take decades to develop, identifying the liable party is more difficult than, for example, a recent car accident or workplace mishap. In the ensuing decades, the employers might have destroyed (or simply lost) records of liability insurance which victims of asbestos exposure would later come to rely on to file lawsuits. This makes filing lawsuits particularly challenging, but by no means impossible. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, a lawyer from our firm can help.
You may be entitled to damages if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma. You may also be able to recover damages if work-related asbestos exposure caused your loved one’s death (wrongful death claim).
Common Stages A Lawsuit Can Take:
Every case is different, but generally, you can expect various legal steps to take place. Your lawyer can help you navigate each phase, including:
Building Your Case
Your lawyer can gather evidence and build a case that shows that the asbestos exposure was the cause of your disease. Evidence could include medical records showing when you were first diagnosed with the disease, any information about past work histories, and documents that show how much time you spent around asbestos products at work.
Filing the Case
Filing as soon as possible after being diagnosed can help since there’s less time for evidence to disappear or be “misplaced.” Filing early also gives you and your lawyer more time to find evidence and prepare for court proceedings. The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In some cases, it can be extended beyond this period in certain circumstances, such as where defendants have delayed discovery.
Each defendant is given a specific length of time to answer the complaint. Defendants may reject your claims.
Discovery is where both parties gather evidence to support their case. Typically this includes interrogatories (written questions), requests for documents, and depositions (oral testimony). The discovery period varies depending on the case complexity and how long it takes to gather information from third parties such as insurance companies or government agencies like OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
After discovery has been completed, both sides may negotiate a settlement agreement that ends the case without going to trial. If both sides agree to settle out of court, negotiations begin. The goal here is for both parties to reach an agreement that everyone finds acceptable.
If an agreement can’t be reached outside of court — known as mediation — then one party can submit their case to a judge for trial. Your lawyer can advise you about whether it makes sense to settle your case at various points throughout the proceedings.
If you lose your trial, it is possible to appeal the decision if new evidence has come to light or if there was some kind of legal error made during the trial. Your attorney can help you file an appeal with the appropriate court system by filing a Notice of Appeal. This allows you to take your case to higher courts, where judges can review all evidence presented during the trial to ensure nothing was missed or misinterpreted before ruling again.
Consult an Asbestos Poisoning Lawsuit Attorney Today
If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos, do not wait until symptoms develop before seeking both medical and legal help. Asbestos poisoning is a serious issue that can devastate your health and reduce your quality of life. You don’t have to fight this alone.
Contacting an asbestos poisoning lawsuit attorney early on could help ensure that your rights are protected and that all necessary evidence is collected before it disappears. In addition, an attorney can help you pursue fair compensation for your injuries caused by asbestos poisoning. We have a network of lawyers who can help you file a lawsuit against the liable party and pursue the fairest compensation possible under the law.