Asbestos was an essential material mandated in building the Navy fleet and widely used in the military from the 1930s through the 1980s. The U.S. Navy used many asbestos-containing products for their insulating and fire-retardant properties.
The long work hours in poorly ventilated enclosed areas on these ships potentially increased the risk of Navy members inhaling dangerous levels of asbestos fibers every time the material was disturbed during removal, repair, renovation, or maintenance.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled over an extended period, they can cause long-term lung inflammation and create asbestos-related health problems 20 to 50 years from the initial exposure. The long latency period means that by the time the doctors can adequately diagnose the disease, it often reaches an advanced stage that makes it difficult to treat.
The process of developing an asbestos-related lung disease has its telltale signs, and everyone who served in the Navy before the early 1980s should pay close attention to any of these symptoms:
- persistent dry cough
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
- pain in the chest or shoulder
- unintentional weight loss
- clubbing of the fingers
During that time, ships abounded with asbestos-containing products, so avoiding exposure to the toxic fibers was impossible. By paying close attention to the symptoms, one has an excellent chance for timely prevention, accurate diagnosis, and adequate treatment of health conditions stemming from asbestos exposure.
Ignoring the Symptoms or Not Considering Them Serious Wastes Precious Time
Severe health conditions may remain unidentified after not considering any newly occurred symptom important and thinking of them as age-related and natural. It doesn't help that certain habits like smoking are often regarded as an ordinary cause for having a persistent cough or difficulty breathing. One should strongly consider that time is of the essence when dealing with asbestos-related lung diseases. The symptoms won't go away by themselves, and as time goes by, they tend to get worse and may turn into asbestos-related cancers:
- bronchial cancer
- lung cancer
- laryngeal cancer
- gastrointestinal cancer
- pharyngeal cancer
- colorectal cancer
- esophageal cancer
- urogenital cancer
Service in the Navy teaches those serving the importance of immediate action, as it could mean the difference between life and death. Navy veterans should apply this skill when it comes to taking care of their health. If any symptoms are present, the immediate step is to make an appointment with the doctor to get checked and diagnosed. Prompt action may reveal the cancers mentioned above in their early stages and facilitate their treatment. Asbestos-related cancers qualify veterans for compensation immediately and guarantee an expedited claiming process.
Tell Your Doctor About Any Possibly Encountered Risks of Asbestos Exposure to Get an Accurate Diagnosis
Veterans who served on Navy ships built till the mid-1970s' should be vocal about the conditions they encountered during service, which most likely led to asbestos exposure. Any detail could be significant in establishing an asbestos-related lung disease. An early and accurate diagnosis significantly impacts the prognosis of asbestos-related conditions and thus cannot be underestimated.
Veterans should request a specialist's evaluation of their medical examinations and insist on a written doctor's opinion. The primary care provider may direct them to several specialists, including a pulmonologist and a radiologist. The doctors can make an asbestos-related lung diagnosis based on the following:
- medical history, including asbestos exposure work history
- physical examination
- blood tests
- chest X-rays
- computed tomography scans
- pleural fluid analysis
- tissue sampling (biopsy)
Asking questions and requesting answers usually leads to better handling of the encountered health issues. The scarring caused by asbestos fibers is permanent, and the lungs will become stiffer over time, making it difficult to breathe. This is why undergoing the appropriate treatment as soon as possible is essential. It can lengthen the overall life expectancy.
Veterans Exposed to Asbestos During Their Service and Suffering From Cancer Resulting From It Can File Claims with the VA
Depending on the veteran's medical condition, the VA offers many programs and services for veterans who develop malignant asbestos-related diseases. Compensations like disability, special monthly, dependency, and indemnity payments are some tax-free benefits available to veterans exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers during their military service and developed asbestos-related cancerous diseases afterward.
Legal claims have a statute of limitations, so it's advisable to contact an attorney as soon as possible after receiving a diagnosis. It's the fastest way to be correctly informed and to avoid filing for claims after the statute of limitations has expired.
Professional legal assistance also spares you the situations where you cannot file for compensation and prevents any problematic financial and emotional scenario that may occur because of it. We can connect you with experienced attorneys who will advise you of your rights and options adapted to your circumstances.