If you or someone in your family are presently a factory worker or have been employed in a manufacturing industry in the past, you may be among those in Illinois and throughout the country who are at risk for certain injuries. Many blue-collar jobs, including those that involve shipyards, railroads, automotive construction or repair, as well as public service work such as fire-fighting, are high-risk positions for asbestos-related injuries.

The problem with asbestos is that it is microscopic, so unless your employer informs you of its presence, you may have no way of knowing that it’s in the air. There’s no safe amount of asbestos exposure. However, if you or your loved one have been exposed and contracted an asbestos-related disease, it might be months or even years before you realize you’re ill.

Signs of illness that warrant immediate medical examination

Mesothelioma is one of several terminal illnesses you might contract if you’re exposed to asbestos. This disease often lingers in the body for years before apparent signs of illness surface. If you or your family member experience one or more of the symptoms included in the following list, you may want to visit your doctor and also inform him or her if you suspect you have experienced exposure to asbestos:

  • Chest discomfort that comes and goes or lingers
  • Difficulty breathing, especially feeling short of breath
  • Back pain
  • Nagging cough
  • Swelling of extremities, in particular your hands or face
  • Any type of abdominal discomfort that you’re unable to resolve
  • Trouble with bowel movements
  • Lack of appetite
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sleep problems
  • Unexplained weight loss

There are, of course, many other illnesses that also present with these types of symptoms, which is why it’s always best to seek medical attention to determine an underlying cause. One of the first things you’ll want your doctor to know is that you worked in a location that is high risk for asbestos. If you have evidence of possible exposure, you’ll definitely want to share that information in as much detail as possible.

Your employer’s obligation

Employers are legally obligated to inform their employees when they know asbestos exists in the workplace. Your employer must also provide you with proper training and available safety equipment to help you stay safe on the job. Sadly, a strong desire for production and profit tempts many employers to withhold asbestos information from workers, which has often led to serious injuries in the past.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses are terminal. Victims and their families often enter litigation to seek compensation for damages, which can help offset medical costs and other expenses associated with their injuries.