As a person that has been exposed to asbestos, you run the risk of developing a variety of different diseases. With the harmful nature of this mineral, and the large number of related conditions, it can make it difficult to keep it all straight.
In this article, we are going to take a closer look at COPD – one of the many conditions that can affect those who have been exposed to asbestos.
What is COPD?
COPD is short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. With this respiratory condition, you may experience shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in the chest, and wheezing.
It is a progressive condition – meaning that it gets worse over time. The leading cause of COPD is smoking, but it is also associated with exposure to environmental toxins.
It is estimated that about 24 million Americans have COPD, with 12 million cases being diagnosed, and the other 12 million going undiagnosed. Treatments for this disease include medication, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and breathing techniques.
How COPD Impacts the Lungs
With COPD, the lungs can be affected in a number of ways. The two main conditions that are associated with COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. If you have COPD, the amount of air flowing in and out of the airways in the lungs will be reduced by different types of damage to the tissue.
COPD will have one or more of the following conditions in the lungs that will reduce the airflow:
-Clogged airways due to the over-production of mucus
-The destruction of the walls between the alveoli
-A loss of elasticity in the alveoli
-Inflammation of the walls of the airways
COPD can affect different people in different ways, and the disease can be associated with a variety of different causes. The following are some of the most common.
Smoking is by far the most common cause of COPD. It is estimated that about 85-90% of all cases are the result of cigarettes.
As a person smokes, they inhale a variety of different toxins into the lungs. The effect of these toxins reduces the lungs’ ability to fight off infections, causes damage to air tubes and sacs, and narrows passages in the lungs. All of which can lead to COPD.
Some people may develop COPD as the result of a genetic disorder that impacts the body’s ability to produce the Alpha-1 protein. This protein is produced in the liver, and it protects certain organs from the harmful effects of other proteins.
If a person has an Alpha-1 deficiency, they are at increased risk for developing lung disease due to this lack of protection.
The air that you breathe can contain a number of different contaminants. By inhaling things like second-hand smoke, dust, airborne chemicals and fumes, you could be at risk for developing COPD.
COPD is not directly caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, but there is a connection between the disease and asbestos exposure. If you have been exposed to asbestos, you could be at a greater risk for COPD because the weakening of the lungs will make you more susceptible to developing this condition.
Additionally, a person with COPD will also be more prone to the types of damage that can be caused by exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos exposure has been linked to more than a dozen conditions. Some of these are confirmed as definitely being caused by asbestos, and with others, the link between the two is suspected.
However, there are others where it is a contributing factor, rather than the cause. COPD is just one of the many asbestos-related conditions that a person may suffer.
If you believe that you have been exposed to asbestos, then it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible; if a condition does exist, it is important to start treatment quickly.
It is essential to remember that you should also receive legal compensation for unsafe work conditions that exposed you to asbestos.
Call Us for Legal Support
If you or a loved one has an asbestos-related condition, it is important that you know all of your legal options. At Landry & Swarr, we specialize in helping people that have been impacted by the effects of asbestos-related diseases. Contact our offices to learn more about your legal rights.