If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is unlikely that you will start developing troubling symptoms of the exposure right away. Unfortunately, it can take decades for symptoms to arise. During that time, asbestos fibers can be undetectable but they still pose a serious threat to a person’s health.
By the time symptoms do begin to show, illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis may already be quite advanced. Because of this, it will be crucial for people exposed to asbestos to discuss their exposure with their doctor who can conduct certain tests on a more regular and pre-emptive basis to hopefully diagnose a disease as early as possible.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, asbestos exposure victims will typically undergo physical exams to check for any signs of lung problems. A doctor will listen to your breathing, tap on your chest and listen for troubling sounds like crackling or dullness that could indicate fluid has built up in your lungs. A doctor may also check for swelling legs and widening of fingertips, both of which may be signs of a lung problem.
If a physical exam reveals some concerning symptoms, you could have a chest X-ray performed. An X-ray cannot spot asbestos fibers, but it can reveal signs of asbestosis or pleural plaque that could be a sign of mesothelioma.
Depending on the results of the X-ray, you might have to undergo additional testing to get more precise information on your condition. Doctors may order a chest CT scan, testing of your lung function or biopsies to confirm a diagnosis.
You may only undergo the physical exam step for many years if there are no signs of lung damage. The additional testing may only be ordered if more information is needed.
What we hope readers take away from this post is that you do not have to wait decades to have a doctor check for potential damage caused by asbestos. You can start monitoring lung health early in an attempt to catch any problems sooner than later. If you are concerned about the added costs of medical care due to asbestos exposure, you can speak with an attorney who can help you identify legal options for pursuing compensation to help cover these and other expenses.