By Treven Pyles
Posted on March 18th, 2020
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can cause extra complications in patients who already suffer from inflammation and scarring of the lungs due to asbestos fibers. Because coronavirus targets the respiratory system, our asbestosis clients are at high risk of developing life-threatening complications, as their lungs are already compromised.
At the moment, coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the world, endangering the lives of people who come in contact with it. There are currently millions of cases in the U.S. and over half a million people worldwide have lost their lives. A person can get it both from another individual and from the environment - for instance, by touching contaminated surfaces and not thoroughly washing their hands afterward. While everyone can become infected with coronavirus, there are certain demographics at high risk, such as the elderly and people with serious health issues associated with occupational exposures to carcinogens, such as asbestos.
Occurring as a result of occupational asbestos exposure on jobs such as:
asbestosis develops inside of the lungs by producing tissue scarring, which makes breathing difficult for the patient. Even though asbestos is rarely used nowadays in these occupations, it was heavily employed before 1980, since it has numerous useful properties.
Based on new evidence, it seems that the high death rate in people who already suffer from an underlying condition might be due to the fact that their condition becomes more acute in the presence of the virus. For someone who suffers from asbestosis, the risks associated with the coronavirus are higher because these people already have problems breathing because of the damage to their lungs.
Moreover, the virus itself leads to an infection of the respiratory tract which triggers additional breathing problems.
Also, individuals with asbestosis might already have a weak immune system due to their condition and ongoing treatment which increases the chances of developing severe complications.
These complications include shortness of breath, persisting chest pain, confusion, inability to stand up, bluish lips, or face. Complications can even lead to a fatal outcome that can occur after the failure of the respiratory system or following septic shock, according to the World Health Organization.
It is important to know that, if you suffer from asbestosis and have also contracted SARS-COV-2, the progression of the latter takes place very fast and thereby, you should seek medical attention immediately.
The use of asbestos became increasingly widespread toward the end of the 19th century when many industries extensively used the mineral for a wide range of uses and applications. For example, asbestos products have been widely used in shipbuilding to insulate pipes and boilers. The coronavirus pandemic makes these workers even more vulnerable to experiencing serious complications.
When asbestos fibers become airborne, the small, needle-like fibers can enter the body through breathing, accumulating in internal organs, and building up scar tissue over time.
By the time symptoms show up, people might already have permanent lung damage. The first problem is that people with early symptoms of what might be an asbestos-related illness, typically, shortness of breath and/or a persistent cough, are not attending their primary care physicians to report those symptoms, for fear of COVID-19 infection.
Even if they do contact their general practitioners, it might be thought that these symptoms relate to the virus itself, not to any underlying asbestos-related illness.
Our clients who are suffering from asbestos-related diseases fall into the category of people classed as "extremely vulnerable" and who are currently being shielded during the COVID-19 crisis because they are:
During this uncertain time, people are being encouraged to report symptoms to their doctors. In turn, doctors should continue diagnostic testing and treatment, under protected conditions, wherever possible.