Mesothelioma Causes & Symptoms

Millions of people have been exposed to asbestos in the past 150 years. For decades, deadly asbestos fibers were used as a fire-retardant insulator in commercial, industrial and manufacturing industries. Manufacturers that used asbestos knew the fiber caused fatal illnesses, including mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining around the lungs, abdomen and heart. Even so, workers were not told to wear protective masks or clothing to protect their health. Millions of workers and family members died needlessly as a result.

Mesothelioma Causes

Researchers have concluded that mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos particles or dust.  While exposure to asbestos fibers was common in shipyards, asbestos mines, asbestos mills, power plants and oil refineries, there are many other ways that people were – and still can be – exposed to asbestos dust:

  • Living or working near an asbestos mine
  • Working in the automotive industry (brake pads are made with asbestos)
  • Working in the construction, or construction demolition, industry (many homes and office buildings still contain asbestos)
  • Performing home repairs (do-it-yourselfers who make renovations on their own homes).

There have been many asbestos injury cases involving women who developed asbestos-based diseases simply by washing the clothing of someone who was exposed to asbestos fibers.  In fact, anyone can become exposed to asbestos by inhaling its microscopic fibers. Once lodged in a person’s mesothelial linings, the fibers can inflame and irritate cells, change the natural cell division process and eventually develop into cancer.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma symptoms vary, depending on the type of mesothelioma from which someone is suffering.  There are generally three types of mesothelioma – pleural, peritoneal or pericardial – but the general symptoms for all types include:

  • Chest pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Loss of diaphragm function
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Voice changes
  • Weight loss. 

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pleural mesothelioma, that which affects the lining surrounding the lungs, is the most common type of mesothelioma.  Common pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Constant cough
  • Pain under the rib cage or chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma, that which affects the lining around the intestines, is the second most common type of mesothelioma.  Common peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Anemia
  • Blood clotting
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Fever
  • Formation of tissue mass in the abdomen
  • Gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea / constipation)
  • Mild or severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma, that which affects the lining of the heart and causes fluid to build up between that lining and the heart itself, is the third most common type of mesothelioma.  Common pericardial mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Irregular breathing patterns
  • Fatigue.

Like any cancer, mesothelioma can metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body, causing additional symptoms such as body pains, difficulty in swallowing and inflammation of the face or neck.

As you can see, asbestos symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from common, everyday ailments.  Given that — and the fact that symptoms may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure — diagnosing mesothelioma or other asbestos-exposure diseases often doesn’t occur until it’s too late.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. offers a free, no-obligation evaluation of mesothelioma claims in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Contact us toll free at 312-361-1823 or use our free online contact form.

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