If you suspect your illness may have been caused by asbestos exposure, your doctors may conduct a variety of tests to confirm your specific diagnosis. Symptoms of asbestos related illness include: shortness of breath, a persistent, worsening cough, blood in your sputum, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, swelling of the face or neck, loss of appetite, weight loss and anemia. If you suffer from these symptoms, see your doctor immediately for a thorough physical examination.
Asbestos Related Disease Testing: Chest X-Ray
Chest X-Ray is the most common diagnostic tool used to identify lung disease, including that caused by exposure to asbestos. Following physical examination by a doctor, a chest X-ray is an important next step in identifying lung disease, however it cannot by itself determine whether or not your disease can be attributed to asbestos exposure. A chest x-ray is a painless, noninvasive test that can be conducted in an outpatient environment.
Asbestos Related Disease Testing: Computed Tomography
In some cases, Computed Tomography (CT) testing may better identify asbestos-related lung disease than a conventional chest X-Ray. While also painless and noninvasive, a CT scan exposes patients to many times the radiation of a conventional x-ray, and is a more lengthy procedure. Recent studies have confirmed that early CT testing can reduce lung cancer deaths.
Asbestos Related Disease Testing: Lung Function Tests
As part of your initial testing, your doctor will assess the condition of your lungs through lung (also referred to as pulmonary) function tests. Lung function tests measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. Although most of these tests are painless, your doctor may need to draw blood for an arterial blood gas test, in order to measure your levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Asbestos Related Disease Testing: Lung Biopsy
Definitive diagnosis of asbestos-related lung disease requires a lung biopsy. A biopsy is a diagnostic test in which a doctor (usually a pathologist) takes a small sample of tissue to study under a microscope. A lung biopsy is an invasive procedure, often performed as a bronchoscopy. In a bronchoscopy, a doctor inserts a flexible tube into a patient’s nose or mouth down the patient’s throat, and into a lung, to collect a small tissue sample.
If mesothelioma is suspected, your doctor may instead perform a thoracoscopy. Because this procedure involves a small incision, your doctor will sedate you so that you do not feel any pain. In a thoracoscopy, your doctor will make a small cut in your chest wall, to insert a thin tube with a light on the end. Your doctor will use this light to explore your lungs and take small tissue samples.
If medical tests indicate that your symptoms are caused by an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Although employers and asbestos product manufacturers were aware of the risks associated with asbestos exposure, many took no safety precautions for decades. Don’t let the prospect of mounting medical bills overwhelm you in this stressful time. Call an experienced asbestos litigation law firm today.
If you or a loved one has suffered from careless exposure to this dangerous substance, Bergman Draper Oslund is here to help. If your medical tests show that your illness may have been caused by exposure to asbestos, call us today for a no-cost, no obligation consultation.