Asbestos symptoms are notoriously easy to brush off or otherwise disregard—a fact largely attributable to the fact that they are so rarely presented in a manner that seems particularly threatening or worrisome. A fact that holds true, that is, until it is too late.
Late-stage mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illness are extremely difficult—or even impossible—to treat once a certain level of severity has been reached. Therefore, it is vitally important that anyone who has experienced asbestos exposure—even as far back as half a century ago—be conscientious of their health and readily aware of any telltale asbestos symptoms, which may present themselves.
The reason for the exceedingly long retroactive timeline is the equally long latency period affecting asbestos-related illnesses. Often, individuals who are ultimately diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma or other cancers do not become ill for many years after they experienced exposure. This is problematic for medical diagnoses, because all too often asbestos victims are not on alert for possible symptoms of a potentially life-threatening illness—until it is too late to help them!
Here are four symptoms NOT to ignore, if you have been exposed to the dangerous mineral asbestos:
Symptom #1: A persistent cough or wheezing
What it could mean: Most often, a continuous cough or repeated wheezing is attributable to common and relatively benign ailments like the common cold or season allergies. But in rare cases, they both can be signs ofpleural mesothelioma—a deadly form of cancer that attacks the mining of the lungs. Additionally, a particularly dry cough that won’t go away may be sign of asbestosis.
Symptom #2: A hoarse throat or voice that doesn’t quickly go away
What it could mean: Usually, a chest cold and common congestion is to blame, but hoarseness in the voice can be a warning sign of the same type of mesothelioma described in the scenario above.
Symptom #3: Fatigue that lasts longer than a few days or weeks
What it could mean: Fatigue can be perfectly normal—especially if you’ve overexerted yourself –in exercise or simply through regular, old hard work. But if you notice yourself feeling tired for an extended period of time with no obvious cause or reason, consider that this may be an asbestos symptom to bring up with your doctor.
Symptom #4: Anemia
What it could mean: Anemia is a relatively common medical condition—usually solved easily with extra iron in your diet or via an over-the-counter supplement—and is often caught during routine blood work, without any obvious symptoms. But if you have been exposed to asbestos and are found to also be anemic, it’s important to alert your physician about your history of exposure so that he or she may consider doing additional testing to get to the root-cause of your anemia (and most importantly, rule out an asbestos-related condition).