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Patients with asbestosis are at high risk of coronavirus

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 18th, 2020

People who suffer from asbestosis are at high risk of serious health complications if they contract coronavirus, as their immune system is very poor. Therefore, they should take extra precautions when it comes to personal safety and hygiene.

At the moment, coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the world, endangering the lives of people who come in contact with it. There are currently a total of over 202,000 diagnosed cases and over 8,000 deaths caused by the virus. 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, children, and people with serious health issues, such as lung disease.

How does asbestosis develop?

Since asbestosis is a terrible lung disease that has no cure, people who suffer from it have a great chance of contracting coronavirus, as their immune system is very weakened.

Occurring as a result of occupational asbestos exposure on jobs such as construction worker, pipefitter, oil refinery worker, boilermaker, and power plant worker, 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.

Why are asbestosis patients at high risk for coronavirus?

Because coronavirus targets the respiratory system, people who suffer from asbestosis are at high risk of developing severe or even life-threatening complications, as their lungs are already compromised. These complications include shortness of breath, persisting chest pain, confusion, inability to stand up, bluish lips or face, and even death. According to statistics, 3% of the people with coronavirus lose their lives, among which are a considerable number of patients with asbestosis. Death occurs 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 also have coronavirus, the progression of the latter takes place very fast and thereby, you should seek medical attention immediately.

What precautions should asbestosis patients take to avoid coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus often mimic those of asbestosis, so it might be difficult to know if you contracted the virus. However, a medical professional will be able to distinguish between the two diseases. Some of the most common signs of coronavirus, which appear within 2 to 14 days after exposure, are a lingering cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, and shortness of breath. In most cases, infection occurs by inhaling the virus which was released in the air by other people coughing or sneezing. Therefore, you should avoid crowds as much as possible to remain safe. Other tips on how to protect yourself from contracting coronavirus include:

  • avoiding touching your face, particularly your nose, mouth, and eyes
  • washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
  • avoiding contact with people who appear sick
  • regularly cleaning your phone doorknobs, desk and computer with sanitizing wipes
  • leading a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, sleeping enough and working out

Infection with coronavirus begins in the nose after one breathes in the virus. After inhalation, the virus will affect the epithelial cells which line and protect the respiratory tract. If the infection is located in the upper airway, the risk of complications is lower for asbestosis patients. Nevertheless, if coronavirus reaches the windpipe and, subsequently, the peripheral branches of the respiratory system and the lung tissue, the infection will be significantly more severe and will pose a terrible danger to the people struggling with asbestosis, as their already damaged lung tissue will suffer further damage.

Financial compensation for asbestosis patients

If you suffer from asbestosis, we strongly advise you to follow the above safety measures to avoid contracting the virus, which could be fatal to you. It is also important to know that if you developed asbestosis as a consequence of asbestos exposure on the job, you can file a claim with the help of a specialized attorney to recover the financial compensation you deserve. Not only will it help you afford better health care and treatment, but the legal action will also hold the responsible party accountable for their negligent actions. Finally, if you struggle with asbestosis as a result of occupational asbestos exposure, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible, as these cases are very complex, requiring time and effort to gather the necessary evidence, and the statute of limitations is only 3 years from the moment you found out about your diagnosis.