Can you tell whether a person has an asbestos disease?

Asbestos under examination

Asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening are not easy to diagnose.

The symptoms – such as breathlessness, persistent cough, chest pains, tiredness and weight loss – are associated with a great many other lung diseases and general illnesses.

Developing an asbestos-related disease

It takes between 10 and 50 years to develop an asbestos disease following exposer to airborne fibres. After such a long time many people do not remember or think to consider that asbestos may be the cause of their suffering.

Also, the symptoms tend to gradually develop and people dismiss increasing breathlessness and general tiredness as the usual wear and tear of ageing.

So, how can you tell if your symptoms are asbestos related?

What did they do for a job?

Arguably the best indication of whether a person could have an asbestos disease is their work history or the work history of close family members. Anyone who has trouble breathing as they get older should consider their occupational history. What did they do for a job? Where did they work? Who did they come into contact with?

The six questions and information contained in the infographic could help establish whether someone has an asbestos-related disease. And that could make a huge difference to their quality of life when it comes to their care and the future of their loved ones.

Jan Garvey, from The National Asbestos Helpline, says: “Asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop, which can deny people the justice and support they deserve. After such a long time it can be difficult for people and medical professionals to make the connection between past exposure to asbestos and their lung condition. We’re hoping that our six questions and infographic help jog the memory and highlight asbestos awareness.”

The National Asbestos Helpline is a free helpline for anyone affected by asbestos. The specialist team has provided help and support to asbestos victims and their families for more than a decade. They received more than 4,000 calls and year and help with practical advice, benefits, civil claims and campaigns on behalf of asbestos victims.

It is more important than ever to get an asbestos survey when carrying out work that could potentially disturb asbestos.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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