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More About Asbestosis Being Misdiagnosed as Chronic Bronchitis

By Treven Pyles

Posted on January 03rd, 2019

Asbestosis is a chronic obstructive lung disorder that develops as a result of inhaling asbestos fibers over a long period of time. The symptoms usually develop after 15 to 20 years of continuous exposure to asbestos.

The patients suffering from asbestosis are prone to develop other respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia as a complication. Sometimes, asbestosis could be misdiagnosed as chronic bronchitis, which eventually causes the worsening of asbestosis symptoms due to inappropriate treatment.

Key Pointers that decide whether it is Asbestosis or Chronic Bronchitis

  • Overlapping signs and symptoms: The symptoms of asbestosis are typical and include a feeling of breathlessness, constant dry cough, and chest pain. Gradually, once your lungs become even stiffer, you may notice that you start breathing fast. Similarly, people with chronic bronchitis do have breathing difficulties that progressively becomes worse over time and long-term productive cough. For this reason, asbestosis may be mistaken for chronic bronchitis during the initial stages.
  • Asbestos exposure level: A detailed occupational history determines the level of asbestos exposure, which helps distinguish asbestosis from chronic bronchitis. Generally, chronic bronchitis is attributed to smoking; however, air pollutants such as toxic fumes and asbestos can worsen the illness or increase the risk of developing symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Asbestosis is exclusively asbestos-induced fibrosis of the lung. Unlike asbestosis, there isn't a definite connection between chronic bronchitis and asbestos.

Getting a Second Opinion from a Specialist in Asbestos-Related Diseases

A misdiagnosis is quite common and is more likely to happen when you and your doctor ignore the past history of asbestos exposure. Doctors often tend to attribute your asbestosis symptoms to another condition such as chronic bronchitis. This happens because asbestosis is a rarely occurring disease and doctors often tend to diagnose common conditions that have a higher rate of occurrence. Misdiagnosis can have a significant impact on your health as it delays proper treatment.

It is important to note that if you have symptoms of breathlessness and persistent cough, particularly, if you have smoked or have been exposed to asbestos in the past, you need to be screened for both asbestosis and chronic bronchitis. In addition, a second opinion is always recommended as it plays an important role in deciding the correct diagnosis and the most effective treatment method. Also, you will be able to recover the rightful amount of compensation from the asbestos trust funds.

If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis or chronic bronchitis, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can be linked to previous asbestos exposure at the workplace, our experienced asbestos lawyers will see if you have a case and can file an asbestos claim to recover financial compensation.
We work on a contingency fee basis at a standard rate of 40%. We only collect that fee once we successfully recover compensation for you. If we do not collect the claim for you, no expenses will come out of your pocket.