How do I know if I have an asbestos-related disease?

People who have been exposed to asbestos in Pennsylvania should know how to spot the signs of a potential illness.

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance reports that across Pennsylvania, there are 40 places that have been noted as sites where there is a risk of asbestos exposure. Workers in energy-related and mining industries may be especially at risk of contacting an illness related to asbestos, but even people in certain public buildings could be exposed.

In circumstances in which someone develops an asbestos-related condition, it may be possible to hold a manufacturer or property owner responsible for paying for medical care and other losses. The first step is recognizing the symptoms of the disease.

Possible conditions

There are a number of conditions that may develop in someone who has been exposed to asbestos. One of the most well-known is lung cancer. Other illnesses included the following:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer

The above illnesses are serious and can be deadly without treatment. There are many other non-life-threatening conditions that may arise, however, such as clubbed fingers. The Mesothelioma Center states that this phenomenon develops in approximately half of everyone who has severe asbestosis.

Spotting the signs

Many of the diseases linked to asbestos affect the lungs, because people inhale the particles. Therefore, common symptoms among these conditions include respiratory issues, such as having difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing, coughing and even swelling around the neck.

When asbestos particles are inhaled, they may become stuck in the tissue of the lungs. This can lead to inflammation and irritation. Weakness, weight loss and fatigue may also manifest.

Even if no symptoms have developed, it is important for people who believe they may have been exposed to asbestos to speak with a physician. While symptoms are not present now, that does not mean they may not arise years from now. Getting regular check-ups is key to catching any possible condition early, when it is most treatable.

Accountability

One major problem with many of these illnesses is that they may take years, even decades to develop. In Pennsylvania, people who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness have two years from the date of the diagnosis - or the date of the person's death - to file a lawsuit.

Generally, it may be possible to pursue a lawsuit against the company that produced the item with asbestos in it. If the business filed for bankruptcy - which many of them have - they may have set up a trust fund just for people who develop these conditions.

Because there is often a large time gap between exposure and disease diagnosis, filing these claims could be complicated. Anyone who has concerns in this area should speak with a personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania.