Important Notice: ADAO does not make medical diagnoses, recommend treatment, or answer specific patient questions. Specific concerns should be addressed directly by your treating physician.
October is Health Literacy Month, and at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), that means driving our prevention initiatives with an even stronger force. Everyone should know the “Irrefutable Facts” about how to protect your loved ones from asbestos exposure, because until researchers find a cure, the only way to stop asbestos-caused diseases is to prevent asbestos exposure.
A 2013 National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) study found that firefighters are twice as likely to die of mesothelioma as the general population. Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure, which is also linked to asbestosis, lung and gastrointestinal cancers. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause permanent and irreversible damage to vital organs. Typically, symptoms of disease begin 10 – 50 years after exposure. Early detection is often difficult as asbestos-related disease symptoms are generally vague and can be easily confused with other illnesses, such as pneumonia. Only a doctor can properly diagnose asbestos-related diseases. Your doctor will ask you about possible occupational or environmental asbestos exposure.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NIH) you should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A persistent cough that gets worse over time
- Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs
- Pain or tightening in the chest
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the neck or face
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Fatigue or anemia
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness
The above symptom list is from the National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet “Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk.” Although not all asbestos exposure or disease leads to cancer, it is vital to remain wary of the risks and symptoms so as to seek treatment as early as possible.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with an asbestos-caused disease, you are not alone. We were disappointed to have to cancel our 16th Annual Asbestos Awareness Conference, April 4-6, 2019 in Washington, D.C.,; however, we look forward to our 2021 conference where renowned experts, global activists, scientists, and doctors will once again discuss the latest advancements in disease prevention, global advocacy, and treatment for mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases. Together, change is possible.
This is Part Three of our four-part Health Literacy Month Series. Please refer to the links at the top to see our previous Health Literacy blogs and join us next week for the final part of the series!
As we say at ADAO, “Hear Asbestos. Think Prevention.”