At this time of year families get together to celebrate Christmas and New Year and in our experience, it is often when families start to notice loved ones with chest problems and breathing difficulties. Often the problems are shrugged off as a bad cold, getting older, or something that will pass. This will be the case for many people with chest symptoms but may be an indication of something more serious for those who have previously worked with or been exposed to asbestos.

Many of the people we represent who are suffering with asbestos related illnesses have often had repeated trips to the doctors because family members have told them to get persistent chest problems looked into. They may have been sent for a chest X-ray at the local hospital after antibiotics not shifting the persistent dry cough or breathlessness. It is often at this stage that our clients were diagnosed with mesothelioma an incurable cancer caused through exposure to asbestos some 20 or 30 years previous.

If you have concerns over a loved one or believe you may have an asbestos related problem, we have set out a guide below to show what you should do:

· If you have not already, contact us immediately so that we can carry out initial enquires as to the exposure to asbestos and the status of your former employers etc.

· Arrange to see your GP.

· Explain to your GP about your previous exposure to asbestos and your concerns.

· Your GP should then refer you to your local hospital for a chest x-ray.

· The radiologist will report back to your GP with his findings.

· Your GP will arrange a further appointment with you to discuss the findings.

· Contact us and let us know the findings.

· Should your x-ray reveal an asbestos related condition you may be referred to a consultant at your hospital for further investigations. Your consultant may advise that you seek legal advice, please inform him that you have a specialist firm of solicitors already acting on your behalf.

· We will then assist to obtain compensation from your former employer or their insurers and any state benefits you may be entitled to.

Please bear in mind that it usually takes 20+ years for an asbestos related condition to show up during investigations. If you are concerned or worried please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 294 3065.