The earlier that an asbestosis diagnosis is confirmed, the more treatments are available for treatment. But detecting asbestosis before it reaches the second or third stage is a very difficult task. There are, however, new diagnostic tools that allow doctors concerned with the possibility of asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases in the very early stages.
Asbestosis Early Diagnosis
The biggest obstacle to asbestosis early diagnosis is that the symptoms are usually very easily confused with other common ailments like the common cold, flu, or even a simple chest cold. In some cases the symptoms mimic more common diseases like bronchitis, pneumonia and emphysema. Unless your doctor is given a reason to suspect an asbestos related disease, he will not check for it. You have to let your doctor know that this is a possibility because of your previous exposure to asbestos.
The earliest symptoms usually start to surface 15 to 50 years after exposure. This gives you a good idea of when to start looking for symptoms like fatigue, persistent cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. Even if these are very minor and seem like an inconvenience, they could be the very first warning signs of asbestosis.
Once you’ve told you doctor about your suspicions, there are a number of different tests that can be administered to help make an asbestosis early diagnosis. The first test that will normally be done is a chest x-ray. Early asbestosis is rarely identified in these tests because the tumors associated with it are not visible in a standard x-ray. What the x-ray will do is rule out other causes of your symptoms.
A CT scan is the next step. These scans are a combination of several x-rays that build a three dimensional image that allows for greater detailed examination of the lung tissue. This test can pick up asbestosis before a standard x-ray. A high-resolution CT scan does an even better job than a standard CT scan. These scans show such detail that even tiny changes in the parenchymal and pleural areas can be detected.
If a high-resolution CT scan indicates abnormalities that may be asbestos related, a biopsy is taken of the affected area to determine a diagnosis. CT scans alone are often not enough to prove asbestosis. A bronchoscopy may be performed where a doctor inserts a small fiber-optic scope into the affected lung area and draws out fluid and tissue samples to confirm a diagnosis of asbestosis.
Once you have a confirmed diagnosis of early asbestosis, you need to contact an experienced lawyer right away. Treatments for asbestosis are very expensive and can last decades. If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis you have the right to be compensated and have your medical care paid for by those who exposed you to asbestos. There is a limited amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit and the clock starts ticking as soon as you are diagnosed.