Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, which is classified in subgroups of chrysotile and amphibole. Amphiboles have got straight, needle-like fibers and are considered more hazardous than chrysotiles. Amphiboles consist of actinolite, anthophylite, amosite, crocidolite, and tremolite asbestos.
Short-term exposure to asbestos usually occurs when the person is not occupationally involved in handling asbestos. For example, someone who is renovating their home could be exposed to asbestos fibers from old insulation, roofing, and tiles for the duration of renovation which could last from a couple of weeks to a few months.
Difference Between Short-term and Long-term Asbestos Exposure
Long-term asbestos exposure is almost always likely to cause an asbestos-related disease. The risk of disease in short-term exposure is present, but not as much as in long-term exposure. This will also depend on the amount of asbestos fibers inhaled. The risk for short-term and long-term asbestos inhalation could be the same if the short-term inhalation consists of hazardous amounts of asbestos fibers and if constant long-term inhalation consists of negligible amounts of asbestos fibers.
Possible Diseases Due to Exposure
Low levels of short-term exposure to asbestos is not considered a threat to humans and can generally be overlooked. You should be concerned of the effects of exposure when the duration has been short, but the amount of asbestos fibers inhaled were way over limits. Especially, during renovation of a house or ship breaking, even the microscopic particles could form a cloud of asbestos fibers and be inhaled by you. This is a cause of concern, and you should get medical attention as soon as possible. Following are the most common diseases that can be caused due to short-term, high level inhalation of asbestos fibers:
- Lung Cancer
Asbestosis is caused when excess asbestos fibers get firmly lodged in the lungs and cause fibrosis/lung scarring. Following are some symptoms caused by asbestosis:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in breathing
- Constant dry cough
- Constant pain in the chest
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Excess phlegm
Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of long-term exposure and could occur in a high level short-term exposure too. Following are some symptoms caused by lung cancer:
- Dry, irritating cough
- Increased sputum production
- Blood mixed with sputum
- Chest pain
- Lung infection
Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer of the thin membranes surrounding the lungs/abdomen. Following are some symptoms caused by Mesothelioma:
- Shortness of breath that keeps on increasing as the disease progresses
- Difficulty in breathing due to lung compression caused by the disease
- Constant pain in the chest which ranges from mild to severe pain
- Unexplained sudden abdominal swelling and pain
- Unexplained weight loss
The symptoms of diseases related to asbestos inhalation will not show up immediately as they usually taking approximately 15 to 40 years to develop. If you know that you have been exposed to a high levels of asbestos fibers over a short term, do not just pass it off. It could possibly be developing into an irreversible cancer. Any disease related to asbestos inhalation can cause other serious ailments, and at times even result in death. Therefore, consult a health care professional immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.