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Could that cough be asbestosis?

One of the deadliest aspects of asbestos exposure is the extremely long latency period between the actual exposure and the manifestation of the disease in those suffering from it. The disease can lie dormant for anywhere from 10-40 years.

When the symptoms begin to present themselves in an ostensibly healthy person, the damage is already done. Signs of asbestosis might include:

-- Clubbing of toes and fingers

-- Dyspnea

-- Non-productive, persistent cough

-- Chest pain

-- Weight loss

-- Diminished appetite

A simple review of the symptoms indicates that the problem could easily be diagnosed as many other conditions. This is why it is especially important for patients to give clear and concise medical histories to their physicians in order to narrow down the diagnostic possibilities when there is possible asbestos exposure in their past work histories. Cigarette smokers are at an even higher risk of developing lung cancer when there has also been asbestos exposure.

It can be quite helpful to provide x-rays from earlier years to the diagnosing physician in order to compare the chest films now with ones from prior visits to track any changes in the lung tissue from the asbestosis.

When asbestosis has advanced, the lungs can take on the appearance of a honeycomb, which can indicate that further diagnostic testing like lung CT scans are needed.

The sad part about a diagnosis of asbestosis is doctors are not presently able to reverse the disease affecting the alveoli in the lungs. Your doctor will probably focus on slowing down the disease's progression while providing palliative care.

If you believe your condition is due to workplace exposures, seeking legal assistance with filing a claim for damages can be wise.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Asbestosis," accessed May 20, 2016

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