Living with an asbestos-related illness can be incredibly difficult, but could exercise be used to help someone cope with their symptoms? Find out, here…
Asbestos has been banned as a building material for many years after it was discovered that it directly caused a wide range of different health conditions – most of which are incurable. However, because the use of asbestos was once so prevalent, people around the world are continually being diagnosed with the associated illnesses, forcing them to make asbestosis, mesothelioma or Pleural Thickening claims.
As it’s not yet possible to cure asbestos illnesses, the next best option is to treat the symptoms. This way, we can ensure that patients continue to enjoy the best quality of life possible, regardless of their respective condition.
That raises an important question which we’ll be answering in the following post; can exercise be used to help people cope with asbestos-related illnesses? To find out the answer to that question, and more, be sure to read on below…
What Asbestos-Related Illnesses Are There?
There are a wide range of different illnesses which can be caused by exposure to asbestos.
For some context, asbestos is a naturally occurring material which is made up of soft and flexible fibres that, when ingested, can become trapped in the body, leading to various complications.
When the fibres become trapped, the body naturally tries to fight back. However, as the fibres cannot be destroyed, the immune system only damages the surrounding tissue. This is where asbestos-related illnesses usually stem from.
Some of the most common conditions that can develop from asbestos exposure include:
Asbestosis is a non-cancerous lung disease which is caused by the direct inhalation of fibres. When the fibres are trapped in the lung, they cause damage and scarring which makes it much harder for it to operate at full capacity. Common symptoms of asbestosis include:
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
- Chest pains
- Swollen fingertips
Identifying asbestosis isn’t always easy, as it may take 20 to 30 years before these symptoms appear.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs. While it mainly affects the lungs, it can also affect the lining of the stomach, heart or testicles.
Symptoms of mesothelioma are very similar to that of asbestosis, though there are a few additional ones to be aware of, including:
- High temperature and sweating
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Tummy pain
- Feeling or being sick
- Diarrhoea or constipation
Pleural thickening is a disease involving damage and thickening of the lining of the lung. This damage can lead to pain when breathing, as well as difficulty in inflating the lung – causing a reduced ability for oxygen to enter the bloodstream.
A pleural effusion is a build-up of fluid in the lining of the lung. This may happen when pressure is put on the lung lining, causing blood vessels to leak fluid.
What Benefits Can Exercise Have for People with Asbestos-Related Illnesses?
Suffering from an asbestos-related illness can kick start a vicious cycle. As one of the primary symptoms of an asbestos-related illness is breathlessness, this can make it difficult for someone to get active, as they find themselves quickly getting tired.
However, the more inactive someone is, the worse their breathlessness is likely to get. Regular, gentle exercise can help someone to reduce their inactivity so that their lung capacity remains relatively stable. This may help to avoid the cycle of difficulty from ever starting in the first place.
Maintaining Muscle Mass
It’s common for people with an asbestos illness to experience a decrease in their muscle mass – particularly as most people that receive a diagnosis are over the age of 60. When we rapidly lose muscle mass, this can put more strain on our body as we use more oxygen to use our muscles while they are less efficient.
Exercise that promotes a reduction in the loss of muscle mass will help to avoid this issue. Most simple exercises, like walking or cycling, are effective enough for this – picking up weightlifting as a hobby isn’t necessary!
Sleep is crucial when our bodies aren’t operating at maximum capacity, as this is where we have the opportunity to rest and recharge. Unfortunately, asbestos illnesses can interrupt someone’s sleep pattern, especially if their condition continually regresses, which can present an awkward situation.
Exercise can help to improve both the quantity and quality of someone’s sleep so that they’re able to enjoy 40 winks when they may not have been otherwise able to.
If someone is suffering from mesothelioma, there’s a chance that the lining of their tummy can be affected. In turn, this could result in a loss of appetite, or sudden weight loss, which can be very dangerous if left unchecked.
Exercise helps to improve someone’s appetite, as the body naturally craves nutrients after burning off calories.
Improving General Mood and Quality of Life
There’s no getting around the fact that living with an asbestos-related illness can be very difficult. As there are no cures (as of yet), and certain conditions can be particularly uncomfortable or painful, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that people experience a decline in their general mood and quality of life.
While exercise isn’t likely to completely turn this around, it can go some ways to improve someone’s overall life. When we exercise, the body releases chemicals known as endorphins, triggering positive feelings and reducing stress.
Are You Suffering from an Asbestos Illness?
In this post, we’ve gone through some of the benefits that exercise can provide people suffering from a range of different asbestos-related illnesses. Of course, the type of exercise that’s considered appropriate will depend on someone’s individual circumstances. So, before you start anything, it’s best to speak to a doctor or physician.
Are you someone who already suffers with an asbestos-related illness? Have you got any exercise tips for anyone in a similar position? Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts!
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.