Mesothelioma vs Asbestosis: What’s the Difference?
Two of the most devastating asbestos-related diseases that a person can face are asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure is the root cause of both mesothelioma and asbestosis. That is one of a few similarities between the two diseases. However, there are more than a few differences between asbestosis and mesothelioma.
What Is Asbestos?
According to the American Cancer Society, asbestos is made up of minerals found in soil and rocks. These minerals form bundles of fibers that mostly consist of oxygen and silicon. There are multiple types of asbestos. The two most common kinds of asbestos are:
- Amphibole – This type of asbestos is shaped like a needle and consists of several kinds of fibers, including crocidolite, anthophyllite, amosite, actinolite, and tremolite.
- Chrysotile – This type of asbestos is also called white asbestos. Unlike amphibole, which is straight, chrysotile asbestos fibers are curly.
Asbestos is heat-resistant and does not conduct electricity. Therefore, it gained popularity as a form of insulation during the industrial revolution. As a result, asbestos found its way into many of our ships, factories, schools, textiles, parts for car brakes and clutches, ceiling tiles, houses, roof shingles, and floor tiles.
What Is Asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a respiratory disease that people get when they inhale asbestos fibers. Per the Mayo Clinic, it takes prolonged exposure to asbestos for someone to develop asbestosis. What happens is that the person breathes in asbestos dust and the dust scars the person’s lungs. It does this by becoming lodged in the alveoli, which is the part of your lungs where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide. When the asbestos fibers scar the alveoli, the victim’s lungs become stiff and it is difficult for him or her to breathe. As asbestosis progresses, a person’s lungs become stiffer and stiffer until it is impossible for them to expand and contract normally.
Asbestosis symptoms generally do not surface until years after a person is exposed to asbestos. Symptoms of asbestosis include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
- Chest tightness
- Dry cough that does not go away
- Clubbed fingertips and toes (this is where the fingertips and toes become rounder and wider than normal)
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer that impacts the mesothelium, which is the tissue that covers most of our internal organs. There is no cure for mesothelioma. Common types of mesothelioma include pleural and peritoneal. Pleural mesothelioma impacts the mesothelium that covers the lungs. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, persistent cough, chest pains in the area under the rib cage, and unexplained lumps in the skin on the chest. Peritoneal mesothelioma impacts the tissue that surrounds the abdomen. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are unexplained weight loss, lumps in the tissue in the abdomen, swelling in the abdomen, and pain in the abdomen.
What Are the Differences Between Asbestosis and Mesothelioma?
While asbestosis and mesothelioma share some similarities, the two diseases are different in a few ways as well, such as:
- Some symptoms that asbestosis and mesothelioma share include shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, and persistent cough. However, as the diseases each progress, those symptoms become much more severe for mesothelioma sufferers than those with asbestosis.
- One symptom that is unique to asbestosis is clubbed fingertips and toes.
- The prognoses for the diseases differ significantly. People diagnosed with mesothelioma are often only give four months to a year to live. Asbestosis patients on the other hand can survive for decades with the disease. However, an asbestosis sufferer’s quality of life will decrease substantially as the years go by.
- Treating each disease differs as well. Treatments for asbestosis are not as aggressive as those for mesothelioma. Asbestosis treatments generally focus on slowing the disease’s progression and providing pain relief. Asbestosis treatments include antibiotics, bronchodilators, medications to combat pulmonary-related issues, pain medications, and breathing tanks. Both asbestosis and mesothelioma patients may undergo treatment in the form of a surgery called thoracentesis. However, asbestosis patients may have the option of undergoing a lung transplant. This option is usually not available to mesothelioma sufferers.
Why Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Victims Should File Injury Claims
In some cases, you or your loved one may not even know that you were exposed to asbestos and that your asbestos exposure is what is causing your suffering or a loved one’s death. This is often because it can take years or even decades for the symptoms of asbestos exposure, asbestosis, and mesothelioma to develop, meaning you may have suffered the exposure at a job or former residence that you left behind long ago. Check this list of mesothelioma risk factors to see if you or a loved one might have a stronger chance of developing mesothelioma.
Bottom line, anyone who has developed asbestosis or mesothelioma is also a victim of asbestos exposure, and therefore, should pursue an injury claim against those responsible for their pain and suffering. Not only will pursuing a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim help injury victims and the families of wrongful death victims, but it will also shine light on the presence of asbestos in a facility. This can help make sure that the asbestos is safely removed, which can ensure others do not suffer the same fate. In addition, asbestos exposure lawsuits alert others who are suffering or lost a loved one because of asbestos exposure that they have an option for seeking justice.
How an Injury Lawyer Can Help Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Victims
If you or someone you love has mesothelioma or asbestosis, or has ever been exposed to asbestos, you need to speak to a mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. A mesothelioma lawyer will be able to examine your situation and determine whether you have a valid personal injury case or workers’ comp claim. In addition, experienced attorneys will often talk to you about your situation for free, answer your questions, and discuss the best options available to you and your loved ones moving forward. As such, you have nothing to lose meeting with an asbestos attorney and everything to gain.