We all face health risks. From our genetic makeup to our lifestyles, we are confronted on all sides with challenges to maintaining good health. We all want the best for ourselves and our families, and we try to make the best choices we can.
Some situations are out of our hands, however. We must trust that our employers, landlords, and even those who manufacture the goods and services we use will fulfill their obligation to protect the public’s best interest. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and few situations have caused as much damage as the use of asbestos. For years, many Americans were knowingly exposed to this dangerous mineral, and today they are left to suffer serious—even deadly—repercussions. We will learn more about asbestos exposure and its consequences here.
What Is Asbestos? How Could I Be Exposed?
Asbestos is a toxic mineral that was widely used in manufacturing processes and products for many years. Asbestos fibers are very tiny, and they display characteristics desirable in industry—heat and electric resistance, strength, and durability. At one time, this affordable mineral could be found in virtually every commercial area—from construction to vehicle brakes to hair dryers.
While there were indications that exposure to asbestos could cause negative health consequences as far back as the 1930s, use of asbestos was finally deemed too dangerous for widespread use in the 1970s. Then, asbestos was clearly linked to serious, life-threatening diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a serious and aggressive form of cancer. It’s only known cause is asbestos exposure. Asbestos particles are swallowed or inhaled, and the tiny particles settle in the soft tissues of the body.
The hardy characteristics that make asbestos desirable in manufacturing also make it difficult for the body to break down or expel asbestos fibers. Over time, these particles can cause mesothelioma. There are three main types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs and is the most common form.
- Peritoneal. Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs when asbestos is inhaled or swallowed and settles into the abdominal lining.
- Pericardial. Pericardial mesothelioma is rare, but it can occur when asbestos particles are trapped in the lining around the heart.
For those with mesothelioma, the diagnosis is grave. There is no known cure for the disease, and it is often diagnosed only in the later, more dangerous stages. It can be difficult to diagnose this cancer, as symptoms often appear as common warning signs of many other diseases and can include:
- Chest pain.
- Trouble breathing.
- Weight loss.
- Buildup of fluid in the lungs.
Treatment for the symptoms is intense and invasive. Some current options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Often, patients undergo more than one of these options, in addition to participation in clinical trials of new treatments.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you face a difficult road. The attorneys at Shannon Law Group, P.C., can help you and your family shoulder some of that burden by helping you pursue a legal case against those who exposed you to asbestos and put you at risk. Call our Chicagoland office today to learn more about your rights and possible options.