Asbestos symptoms

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The common asbestos symptoms

Think you may be suffering from an asbestos-related disease? Check out the most common asbestos symptoms below which will vary depending on which type of asbestos disease you have:-

1 Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath is often one of the very first signs of an asbestos related illness.

Exposure to and inhalation of asbestos fibers causes scar tissue in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

This scar tissue that develops in the lungs is known as asbestosis.

2 Wheezing

Find yourself wheezing a lot? Then you may have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

Exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to inflammation in the lungs, causing wheezing.

You will probably notice a distinct ‘whistling’ sound.

3 Persistent Dry Cough

Again, a persistent cough is one of the most common asbestos symptoms.

It’s the scar tissue in the lungs that causes this persistent cough, which develops over a long period of time.

4 Fatigue

Feeling more tired than usual?

If you find you are constantly tired, it could be a warning sign of an asbestos-related disease such as lung cancer or mesothelioma, particularly if you are suffering from any of the other common asbestos symptoms.

5 Swollen Fingertips

Another of the common asbestos symptoms and a sign of the disease asbestosis, is swollen fingertips.

The fingertips will appear broader, rounder and overall swollen.

Other warning signs that something may be wrong are pains in the chest/abdomen, fever or night sweats, muscle weakness, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

Common asbestos symptoms include persistent coughing
Common asbestos symptoms include persistent coughing

When will symptoms appear?

Generally speaking, those who develop asbestos-related diseases don’t actually display any signs of illness for a long time after exposure to asbestos.

Infact, it may take anywhere between 10 and 40 years or more after exposure to asbestos for any asbestos symptoms to appear.

Your doctor will diagnose an asbestos-related lung disease based on your past exposure to asbestos, any symptoms, a physical exam, and results of tests such as a chest X-ray or chest CT scan.

Who is most likely to develop an asbestos disease?

Workers most at risk are those who have worked in shipyards, aircraft and automobile engineers, miners, building and construction workers, electricians and railway workers.

Although tradesmen statistically are at higher risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, as asbestos was used so extensively in the construction of residential, commercial and public buildings, this means that anyone working or residing in a building constructed BEFORE the UK asbestos ban in 1999 could also be at risk.

Asbestos-related diseases include mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Asbestos disease diagnosis

The first step you should take is to visit your GP.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and will usually listen to you chest with a stethoscope.

They will also ask about your work history and whether you were ever exposed to asbestos and how long for.

If the GP suspects you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease, then you’ll most likely be referred to hospital for specialist testing to be carried out.

These tests will usually involve x-rays and a CT scan.

The chest x-ray is currently the most common tool used to detect asbestos-related diseases.

A lung biopsy sample may also be taken to test for cancer cells or a less intrusive bronchoscopy may be performed.

Did you find this article interesting?  Then check out our other interesting articles below.

Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their properties, carrying out an asbestos survey in their building so as not to put employees at risk.

So make sure you contact our Armco office to arrange an asbestos survey, before it’s too late! 

Whether you need an asbestos management survey, or a refurbishment/ demolition survey, contact us on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting

Finally, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit book an asbestos awareness training course.

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Published Apr 08, 2019
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