Mesothelioma: Signs and Symptoms

The early signs of mesothelioma tend not to appear until decades after exposure to a harmful materials such as asbestos. Symptoms may not seem all that serious initially. They can resemble the symptoms of other diseases, making a definitive diagnosis difficult at the first attempt. Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos and who exhibits the following symptoms should seek medical advice.

Chest Pains
Sometimes this may be experienced as a heavy feeling in the chest, which is caused by the build-up of fluid in the lungs. It sometimes manifests as a more severe pain. It is often felt on one side of the chest and is sometimes in the back or shoulder area. The pain may be worse when the patient moves or breathes deeply. It should always be taken seriously, especially if the patient has a history of exposure to asbestos.

Dyspnoea
This is shortness of breath, which can also be caused by fluid building up in the lungs, or sometimes because the capacity of the lungs has been reduced by the disease. Sometimes the doctor will drain fluid from the lungs to control this symptom. A feeling of breathlessness can be a symptom of many other diseases, but should be investigated where there is a history of asbestos exposure.

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Cough
People with mesothelioma may experience a persistent, troublesome cough. This may be due to irritation by the tumour, but can also be caused by a chest infection. Other respiratory symptoms include wheezing or harsh, noisy breathing. Patients affected in this way should consider claiming asbestosis compensation from whoever was responsible for their exposure to asbestos.

Fatigue
Mesothelioma can cause sufferers to lack energy and feel tired all the time. This is common with many forms of cancer and can be related to treatments as well as the cancer itself. Signs can include feeling overwhelmed by or disinterested in everyday activities, difficulty with concentration, lack of motivation and emotional volatility.

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Sweating
Some people with mesothelioma find sweating to be a problem, particularly at night. Chemicals produced by the tumour may be the cause, or it might be due to infection, emotion or medications. Symptoms can be controlled by using loose cotton clothing or bedclothes.

Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss
This is often experienced by sufferers of mesothelioma and advice from a dietician may help. People’s tastes change and they may not be able to eat proper meals, so many find eating frequent small amounts easier. Sometimes appetite can be stimulated by drugs such as steroids. Nutritional supplements can be helpful.

Difficulty swallowing

Patients with mesothelioma may have difficulty in swallowing and sometimes complain of coughing or choking when they are trying to eat. Due to pressure on the oesophagus, breathing may be restricted and this becomes even more crucial when the individual is attempting to swallow food or liquids. For this reason, patients may be reluctant to eat and drink, which can lead to weight loss.

Although mesothelioma is generally regarded as a fatal disease, once it is diagnosed the symptoms can often be managed so that they have less impact on the patient’s life.

Robert Billington is a writer who specialises in industrial diseases. He recommends that anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma should look at 
claiming asbestosis compensation as soon as possible.

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