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Were you exposed to asbestos?

If you have spent time around asbestos, chances are you may be diagnosed with asbestosis from breathing in the fibers. People with asbestosis develop scarred lungs that can no longer expand and contract during breathing.

It can take up to two decades for symptoms to present after an exposure. Those with extended time spent around asbestos usually suffer more severe symptoms.

Prior to 1975, almost every field of construction used asbestos. If you worked in the mines or the mills during that time, you almost certainly were exposed. Your family members were even exposed if you came home in your work clothes because the particles clung to your clothes.

Asbestosis is not the only disease you can get from exposure to asbestos. Others include;

-- Malignant mesothelioma, which affects the lung lining and can take up to 40 years to develop

-- Lung cancer

-- Pleural plaques

-- Pleural effusion

Because it is commonly known that exposure to asbestos causes these deadly diseases, workers aren't as likely to be exposed. Regulations are now in place that strictly limits workers' exposure. Smokers have an increased risk of developing the above conditions, however.

The symptoms include:

-- Coughing

-- Chest pain

-- Tightness in chest area

-- Becoming short of breath after exertion that worsens over time.

-- Abnormalities of the nails

-- Clubbed fingers.

Physicians diagnose the condition by ascultating the lungs and listening for rales, observing chest x-rays and CT lung scans, running pulmonary function tests and gallium lung scans.

Asbestosis has no cure, but there are treatments that can ease the symptoms. If you are diagnosed with the condition, it may be possible to seek legal damages from the company or entity responsible for your exposure.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Asbestosis," accessed July 03, 2015

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