Is There a Test for Asbestos Exposure?, asbestosdefinition.com | In many parts of the world, Is there a test for asbestos exposure? That is a question that I often hear from my patients. Asbestos is a very dangerous mineral that can cause many health problems.
If exposed to it in any form for any length of time, you will have some sort of lung cancer or other illness. The main disease that is caused by is that of mesothelioma.
Asbestos is primarily found in pipes, fire doors, ceiling tiles, flooring (such as carpeting and subflooring), insulation, and roofing materials. In the early stages of asbestos exposure, the patient may have no or very little signs of illness. However, over time, with increased exposure, certain early signs of mesothelioma begin to appear. These include:
o X-Rays: Asbestos usually produces very few visible or measurable amounts of fibers. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become trapped in the lungs or chest cavity.
If there is any exposure to these fibers, the lungs or chest cavity will swell and may produce an x-ray or chest pain. This is one of the early signs of mesothelioma.
o Chest Pain: Another sign that there may be asbestos exposure is chest pain. The reason for this is that when asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become trapped in the lining of the lungs or the chest cavity and cannot travel out.
They build up in this way over time and can cause serious problems. If there are any asbestos fibers visible through the x-ray, it is possible that there is some level of asbestos in the lungs or chest cavity.
o Coughing: It is not uncommon for people who have been exposed to asbestos to begin coughing. This is because the lungs react to asbestos exposure in a way that is similar to the human body’s natural response to poison.
There is mucus production and the eyes start to water. Inhaling this mucus causes a stinging sensation in the throat. Continued exposure can cause the throat to become more sensitive to touch, swallowing or breathing.
All of these early signs can be attributed to exposure to asbestos. However, as more is learned about the health affects of asbestos, there are ways to test for it.
If there is a previous exposure to asbestos-related products, the company that produced it may be able to test for it. If the person was employed by a company that did not make asbestos-related products but used it, they could test for it on their own.
For those that were exposed to asbestos and were diagnosed with certain types of cancer, doctors may need to perform additional tests to determine the cause of the cancer. These tests would include CAT scans, a chest x-ray, an MRI or a lung biopsy.
CAT scan will show whether there is an abnormality in the lung tissues, which could be a sign of lung cancer. An MRI will show if the size of the asbestos fibers in the lung cancer tumor are large enough to block normal air flow through the lungs. A lung biopsy will let doctors know if the lump is malignant.
People who have worked in areas that contained large amounts of asbestos fibers may develop mesothelioma. This is a very aggressive form of cancer and often has very little treatment other than monitoring and possible surgery.
Mesothelioma is not just a threat to the person who developed it, but to anyone within close proximity of him. The symptoms of this disease often do not become apparent until the person reaches the advanced stages. Treatment for mesothelioma can vary from surgery to chemotherapy.