Virginia Employees At-Risk For Asbestos Diseases Should Seek Periodic Medical Exams

Virginia Employees At-Risk For Asbestos Diseases Should Seek Periodic Medical Exams

Workers who have a history of asbestos exposure in Virginia should be checked often for asbestos-related illnesses. Those who worked in the armed forces, refineries, auto factories, shipyards and chemical plants in Virginia before the 1980s should tell their doctors about their potential exposure to asbestos. Early detection is important in many cases of asbestos-related diseases, as even lung cancers have a better prognosis when caught early.

Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, asbestosis is a scarring of the lower lobes of the lungs. Virginia workers who were employed in certain industries, such as shipbuilding, automotive repairs and mining, should be on alert for asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases. At-risk workers in Virginia who have a history of asbestos exposure should see their physicians for periodic asbestosis screenings. To detect asbestosis, the physician will take an x-ray of the lungs, which will be evaluated by a certified radiologist. This diagnostic tool can establish whether the patient has scarred lung tissue, which is often associated with asbestos exposure. Although asbestosis is not typically deadly, it can become progressive and may require the patient to depend on inhalers. Patients who have been diagnosed with asbestosis should undergo regular x-rays and lung function tests to track the development of the disease.

Patients who were exposed to asbestos should be screened for lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare, but fatal, cancer of the mesothelium. To look for cancers of the lungs, the doctor will examine the patient’s breathing with a stethoscope to listen for any strange sounds. For example, a doctor may hear a dull sound when tapping on the chest of a patient with fluid buildup in the lungs. When screening for lung cancers, the doctor may also examine the patient’s legs for swelling and fingers for clubbing. These symptoms may suggest that there is a problem with the lungs.

After completing the physical exam, the doctor may order a chest x-ray to look for suspicious masses, fluid or tissue thickening. A chest x-ray of a patient with lung cancer may display abnormal fluid or masses, while an x-ray of a mesothelioma patient would show pleural thickening. Should the x-ray show any abnormalities, the patient would be referred to a specialist for further evaluation. Although an x-ray can indicate lung cancer and mesothelioma, a diagnosis of these diseases can only be confirmed with a tissue biopsy.

During their check-up, at-risk Virginia workers should be truthful about their past to ensure the proper screening and diagnostic tests are utilized. The doctor will typically ask about the patient’s former employment and history of asbestos exposure. He or she may also inquire about the employment history of the patient’s family members, because asbestos fibers could have been carried home on the clothes, skin and hair of those exposed to the mineral. Lastly, the doctor may ask whether the patient is experiencing any bothersome symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath.

Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used because of its insulating properties. Individuals working with the mineral on a daily basis are specifically at-risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, although symptoms of these diseases may not be present until several decades after the asbestos exposure. Because of the latency period of asbestos-related diseases, those who worked in the armed forces, Virginia shipyards, oil refineries, steel mills, railroads or power plants should plan a screening with their doctors.

The mesothelioma law firm Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein has offices in Newport News, VA and is dedicated to representing victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Contact the mesothelioma attorneys of PWHD today for a free legal consultation.


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