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Asbestos-related diseases and their symptoms

Many people in North Carolina continue to suffer from various illnesses caused principally or exclusively by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. While asbestos is no longer used in new buildings, the mineral is present in the many older buildings in the state, and persons are still exposed to asbestos-containing products. A review of asbestos-related diseases and their symptoms can help people detect the illness and obtain proper medical care.

The phrase "asbestos-related disease" means a handful of lung and lung-related illnesses that have been proven to be caused almost exclusively by exposure to air-borne asbestos fibers. If a person inhales these fibers, they lodge in the lungs and cause scarring and inflammation. Over time, the effects of asbestos exposure can cause any of the following diseases:

Pleural plaque - the pleura is the tissue around the lungs and the diaphragm; pleural plaque is the hardening of the pleural tissues. It is usually asymptomatic.

Pleural effusion - the accumulation of excess fluids in the pleura

Asbestosis - scarring of the lung tissue that can increase the risk of lung cancer

Lung cancer - cancer in one or both lungs

Mesothelioma - an especially deadly form of cancer that forms in the pleura

Pleural effusion may cause chest pain; a chest x-ray can provide a definitive diagnosis. The symptoms of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma are similar: a cough that does not improve or worsens, shortness of breath and coughing up blood.

Anyone suffering from any of these symptoms should seek a medical evaluation from a qualified physician. If any of these diseases is diagnosed, a consultation with an attorney who specializes in asbestos product exposure cases can provide a helpful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the chances of recovering damages from the responsible parties.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, "What Are Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases?," accessed on May 25, 2015

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