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Posted on Apr 19, 2022

What are the occupational health hazards that can affect the respiratory system or cause cancer?

Several  respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, interstitial lung disease, asthma and COPD can be caused  by both non occupational and occupational factors. Therefore, an occupational exposure history is crucial in assessing the respiratory risks of a worker and in establishing a diagnosis of occupational lung disease. The main symptoms of asbestosis are shortness of breath and a chronic cough. When asbestosis occurs, it is typically 10 to 20 years after the initial exposure to asbestos. The disease can decrease over time. Asbestos can cause cancer and chronic respiratory diseases after asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested. Generally  these diseases take a long time to develop after exposure, with symptoms appearing anywhere between 10 to 80 years later.

During the diagnosis of asbestosis, chest x-rays will show little  irregular opacities (spots in x-ray film where the x-rays could not “see” through the tissue). These are commonly situated  in the middle and lower lungs. Lung function tests can help to determine how major  the condition is.  People with fully developed asbestosis have shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, less  lung function, finger clubbing and bluish skin colouration. Lung cancer basically does not cause symptoms in the initial  stages. When symptoms create  the cancer is often advanced. Symptoms of lung cancer include chronic cough, weight loss, shortness of breath, fever, and chest pain. These symptoms are also common with other lung disorders therefore lab tests alongwith chest x rays are advised to be done for propoer diagnosis.