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Asbestosis: A Silent Killer?

Date Added: January 08, 2013 10:12:47 AM
Author: imurwriter
Category: Respiratory Disorders Asbestosis-Mesothelioma

Asbestosis: A Silent Killer?

In 1992, a person named Nellie Kershaw died after a prolonged exposure to asbestos while working in a textile company. She was the first diagnosed pulmonary asbestosis case. However, justice was not served well on her death. The owners Turner Brothers Asbestos where she was formerly employed refute the fact that her illness was attributed to her working condition. This is because asbestosis was not yet medically recognized at that time. Hence, she ended up receiving no compensation from her employers. But Nellie’s death did not end up useless. In fact, this led to the British government’s parliamentary enquiry. It was only then that asbestosis was confirmed to be directly related to the person’s prolonged exposure to asbestos dust. In 1931, government regulation on asbestos industry was published which took effect in 1932. Today, billions of dollars were paid due to many asbestosis lawsuits. 

Reasons for Delayed Diagnosis

However, do you know that this illness actually started to take place in as early as 1898? Unfortunately, a lot of cases were never diagnosed because medical practitioners weren’t able to consider the fact that asbestos can lead to a very fatal condition, even to the extent of the person’s death. Why is this so? Perhaps it is because you can be accumulating all these harmful dusts in your lungs for many decades without even knowing it. And because its signs and symptoms are somewhat similar to other types of medical conditions like pneumoconioses, it can be very hard to diagnose the condition unless environmental and occupational history has been thoroughly assessed. The doctor needs to rule out other possible findings and check the person’s pathologic history to confirm the illness.

When Will the Symptoms Start to Manifest?

Normally, a person will seek medical consultation only after experiencing odd symptoms on one’s health. This is also the reason why asbestosis is often untreated until the later part of the illness. In fact, it can take more than 10 years before the disease will manifest. After several decades have gone by, the individual may have already shifted to different types of works, making it impossible for the individual to relate one’s symptoms to asbestos exposure. Because the organ which will be affected are the lungs, the person may experience mild forms of dyspnea; a common symptom manifested by other forms of illnesses. This will eventually result to the patient’s death due to respiratory failure.

Is There Any Cure for Asbestosis?

Unfortunately, this illness has no known treatment as of these days. The only medical intervention that can be done is supportive medical care. This includes oxygen therapy to treat hypoxia, respiratory physiotherapy to loosen secretions, chest vibration and chest percussion. Preventive care will also be initiated such as pneumococcal pneumonia injection as well as vaccination against flu. Smoking must also be discouraged to slow down the progress of the disease.

We all know that death may come to anybody unexpectedly. Hence, even a healthy person can die anytime by some other reasons other than sickness. A pessimistic person may look at asbestosis as a hopeless case with no cure. However, looking at a brighter side, this silent killer will somehow prepare you to another phase of your life which is death. At least it gives you enough time to feel how much you are loved by your family and friends. After all, you still have the option to spend the last days of your life to the fullest.