Navy Veterans and Mesothelioma
Statistics indicate that more than 25 million veterans are alive today. Unfortunately, thousands of them were exposed to asbestos and other toxic substances during their military duties. The Navy and other branches of the military have used asbestos in ships, submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, and military facilities. Asbestos was also heavily used on battleships, including USS Alabama (BB-60), USS South Dakota (BB-57), USS Oklahoma (BB-37), and USS Massachusetts (BB-59). As a result, many engineers, military contractors, sailors, shipyard workers, and pipe fitters are now being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.
How Does Asbestos Exposure Affect Your Health?
Asbestos is made of tiny fibers that are up to 700 times smaller than a human hair. The substance can be easily inhaled, ingested, or swallowed and make their way to the chest cavity, heart, or abdomen. These microscopic particles accumulate, causing scarring and inflammation. Individuals who are exposed to high levels of asbestos on a regular basis are more likely to develop asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma in Navy Veterans
Asbestos cancer or mesothelioma affects approximately 3,000 people in the United States and more than 10,000 people worldwide each year. Those who worked on shipyards or served in the U.S. Navy account for more than 30 percent of these cases. In fact, thousands of veterans who have worked on Charlestown Navy Yard, San Francisco Naval Shipyard, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and Brooklyn Navy Yard are now being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
How to Recognize Mesothelioma Symptoms
Mesothelioma has a number of symptoms that often resemble other illnesses, such as hernia, common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, and flu. Most times, patients experience chest pain, fatigue, low iron in the blood, fluid buildup in the lungs, hoarseness, severe weight loss, shortness of breath, blood in the sputum, and muscle weakness.
Veterans and former ship workers diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma typically present with abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fluid buildup in the chest, constipation, diarrhea, and wheezing. Pericardial mesothelioma may cause arrhythmia, night sweats, extreme fatigue, and blood clots in the veins. In late stages, mesothelioma can lead to pulmonary embolism, bowel obstruction, jaundice, and collapse of the lung.
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