Thousands of people die every year from asbestos-related diseases.

Several conditions can be linked to asbestos exposure, and this can lead to some confusion as to what the different conditions are, and the effects that they have on people that have to live with them.

torso on an X-ray show a mass on the lungs

To clear up some of the confusion, we are going to take a look at asbestosis and mesothelioma to explain the things that they have in common, and some of the ways that they differ.

Both are Caused By Exposure to Asbestos

The first thing to understand about these two conditions is that they are both caused by exposure to asbestos. With both diseases, the condition develops over years, as the individual inhales microscopic asbestos fibers.

For this reason, any person that is at a high risk for asbestosis would also be at a high risk for mesothelioma.

While these diseases do share a cause, there are some significant differences. Asbestosis and mesothelioma differ significantly in the types of diseases that they are, and the way in which they develop.

One is Cancer, One is Not

One of the most important differences between these two diseases is that one is a type of cancer, and the other is not. With this difference, that means that the approach to treatment and the prognosis will differ depending on which you have.

Asbestosis is a respiratory condition that is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Once inhaled into the lungs, the fibers can cause a scarring that leads to a hardening of the tissue. As the damage and scarring progress in the alveoli, it will cause respiratory trouble, making it hard for the person to breathe.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Like asbestosis, it takes prolonged exposure to airborne asbestos particles for a person to be at risk for mesothelioma, and it can take many years for the condition to be diagnosed.

The Symptoms are Very Similar

When you look at the symptoms of these diseases, there are many commonalities. This similarity is one of the reasons that there is some confusion between asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Among the symptoms that are common, you have weight loss, shortness of breath, persistent cough, and chest pain. Both conditions also have a long latency period; meaning that diagnosis does not usually occur until years after the first exposure.

A definite difference however, is that a patient with asbestosis would be more likely to develop clubbed fingers.

The Prognosis Varies

Another major difference between mesothelioma and asbestosis is in the prognosis.

Once diagnosed, it is not uncommon for a person with mesothelioma to be given a prognosis of about 6-12 months. For a person with asbestosis, the outlook is generally better, and you could live for decades.

While the prognosis for asbestosis is better, it can still be deadly. As the disease progresses, the symptoms will get worse, and quality of life will decline.

Treatments are Different

Depending on which of these diseases you have, the treatment will be different.

The treatments for mesothelioma tend to be aggressive, going after the disease in an attempt to extend the lifespan of the patient. With asbestosis, the treatment is more toward relieving the symptoms and improving quality of life.

While there is no cure for asbestosis, there are treatments that can help to improve your quality of life with the condition.

If you are a smoker, quitting the habit will be an obvious necessity. Additionally, you have antibiotics, bronchodilators, breathing tanks, pulmonary medications, and pain meds.

For both conditions, surgery may be an option.

Thoracentesis is a procedure that may be used to improve breathing for patients. With this procedure, fluid is drained from the lungs, and this can help to restore the ability to breathe more easily.

Mesothelioma requires aggressive treatment strategies if there is to be any improvement in the condition or the prognosis. Common treatments include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.

If you or a loved one has developed a condition like asbestosis or mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos, you may be able to access money that will help to cover the cost of lost wages or medical treatment. To learn more about your legal options, contact Landry & Swarr today.