Proving a long suspected asbestos exposure in a quarter of mesothelioma compensation cases becomes more problematic as the length of latency period continues. From first exposure to the appearance of asbestosis symptoms could take between 15 to 50 years, in which time, the asbestos-related disease continues to slowly and silently develop.
Additional obstacles to early detection are the non-specific symptoms of mesothelioma, which can be confused with similar types of health-debilitating signs. Commonly occurring symptoms can include a persistent cough, shortness of breath and chest pains which could, for example, also indicate bronchitis, pneumonia or emphysema.
If, as so often happens, the symptoms are incorrectly diagnosed as a simple chest cold, flu, or even due to susceptibility of aging, by the time mesothelioma is identified, not only has it has almost certainly reached the later stages, it is also means the patient may only survive six to twelve months. The attendant difficulties of the late pursuance of mesothelioma compensation are most often left in the hands of surviving immediate family and their asbestosis lawyer.
The earliest possible asbestos awareness can be aided by recognising the development of noticeable symptoms.
The early stage may be simply experienced as a vague ‘rundown’ feeling of being unwell most often attributed to a seasonal complaint or lack of exercise, weight problems, etc. However, a more decisive first symptom is shortness of breath after exertion or exercise, although, once again, this may be shrugged off as ‘being out of condition’.
The appearance of the repeated ‘dry cough’ over a prolonged period, where there is no obvious other signs of illness, accompanied by constant tiredness or feeling drained means the middle stage has begun. The shortness of breath becomes more frequent, sometimes occurring when at rest.
This is followed by ‘tightness’ or a recurring chest pain and inability to ‘catch the breath’. When oxygen exchange in the bloodstream becomes deficient, fingers start to club together and appear pitted with uneven fingernails. At the most advanced stages, severe chest pain felt as an intense pressure being placed on the chest, interrupted sleep and the need to sleep at a position to make breathing more easier are experienced.
Other severe symptoms are swelling of the hands, feet and ankles, coughing up blood or fluid from the lungs and recurring respiratory infections.
The chances of beginning a successful asbestosis claim are obviously increased by the earliest detection, and tracing back to the original possible exposure at work – or as a result of secondary exposure to contaminated work clothing – the home environment.