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How to Tell if you Have Mesothelioma

How to Tell if you Have Mesothelioma

You might have heard about mesothelioma on television but most people have no idea what it actually is. If you don’t know what it is, how can you tell if you have it? Let’s take a look at what mesothelioma is and how you can tell if you may have this dreadful disease.

how-to-tell-if-you-have-mesothelioma

    What is Mesothelioma?

    Mesothelioma is a form of cancer. It is located in the mesothelium, which is the protective membrane that lines all of our body’s vital internal organs.

    Three out of every four cases of mesothelioma start in the pleural mesothelium of the chest cavity. It can also start in the abdominal cavity and around the heart. No matter where the cancer originates, malignant cells from the protective lining can invade and start to damage tissues. The cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.

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    Unfortunately, most of the time when mesothelioma is diagnosed it is already in the advanced stages. This is an extremely deadly disease. The five-year survival rate is around 5% to 10%. Most of the patients diagnosed with mesothelioma end up dying due to respiratory failure or pneumonia. Some patients can also develop bowel obstructions when a tumor extends through their diaphragm. A smaller number of patients end up dying of cardiac complications because the tumor invades the tissue around the heart.

    The good news is that mesothelioma is considered a rare form of cancer. About 3,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States every year.

    What are the Causes of Mesothelioma?

    Far and away the number one risk factor of mesothelioma is working with asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers. It was once praised for its impressive versatility. It is heat resistant, strong, and has insulating properties. It has been used for everything from fireproof vests to commercial and home construction.

    When the tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air, like what happens during manufacturing, they are at risk of being swallowed or inhaled. This is what can lead to serious health complications. In fact, almost 75% of mesothelioma cases are directly linked to asbestos exposure at the workplace.

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    Evidence also exists that people living with asbestos workers are also at a greater risk for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related health problems. This is probably because the workers bring asbestos dust home on their clothes, hair, and other belongings. There have also been cases of mesothelioma found in people who live within a close proximity of asbestos mines.

    There have been some mesothelioma cases reported in people without any known exposure to asbestos, but this is rare. The uncommon causes of mesothelioma include:

    • Zeolites: Minerals chemically related to asbestos.
    • Radiation: The American Cancer Society reports that a few published studies of mesotheliomas show that it developed following exposure to high doses of radiation.
    • SV40 Virus: Laboratory animal studies have shown the possibility that the SV40 virus may increase the risk of mesothelioma.
    • Genetics: There are experts who believe that some people can be predisposed genetically to mesothelioma.

    What are Common Mesothelioma Symptoms?

    A very important thing to remember is that mesothelioma symptoms do not usually appear until 20 to 50 years after the initial exposure to asbestos. So if you worked with asbestos years ago but have not had any symptoms, that does not mean that you are free and clear.

    Similar to most forms of cancers, mesothelioma can have a wide spectrum of symptoms. Some of the symptoms are also shared with other illnesses and diseases. This makes it harder to detect. However, if you or a loved one have any of the following symptoms, it is always better to get checked.

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    When mesothelioma is in the lungs, the main symptoms are:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Dry cough
    • Wheezing

    When mesothelioma is in the abdomen, the most common symptoms will include:

    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Swelling and pain in the abdomen
    • Blood clotting
    • Bowel obstruction
    • Fever
    • Anemia

    If the cancer has already spread throughout the body, symptoms may include:

    • Low blood sugar
    • Hoarse throat
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Swelling of the neck or face

    As we said before, many diseases and illnesses share these symptoms. It is very important that when they are present you see a doctor so he or she can diagnose what is causing them.

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    Why is Mesothelioma Commonly Undetected?

    Even though mesothelioma is a severe and deadly disease, the symptoms are generally very mild. How often do you or your doctor think that a cough and fever is being caused by cancer? Most of the time these symptoms are attributed to something simple, like a common cold.

    It is usually not until the symptoms persist or intensify that doctors start to put the pieces together. When cancer is suspected, an extensive screening process is started which could take months. This is a long time to wait as the cancer is present and possibly spreading. There are even some forms of mesothelioma that are very rare and usually never diagnosed until the patient has passed away and there is an autopsy. As we said, mesothelioma is a very serious disease.

    What Should You Do?

    If you know that you or a loved one has had exposure to asbestos at any point in your lives, you should take the symptoms mentioned above very seriously. Let your doctor know your symptoms and the reason that you believe you are at risk for mesothelioma. Make sure that they consider cancer as a possibility, even if they express to you that they believe the chances are extremely unlikely. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are probably entitled to compensation. You should contact a lawyer for assistance.

    Mesothelioma is extremely serious. It is important to understand the risk factors and symptoms so if you do have it you can ensure a swift diagnosis. After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of what you can and should do if you have been exposed to asbestos and have any of the common symptoms.

    Featured photo credit: Infobrandz via Infobrandz.com

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    Vikas Agrawal

    Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

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    Last Updated on November 9, 2020

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

    Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

    Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

    If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

    Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

    1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

    Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

    Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

    Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

    2. No Motivation

    Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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    This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

    If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

    3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

    Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

    A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

    A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

    The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

    4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

    One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

    We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

    Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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    You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

    5. Upward Comparisons

    Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

    The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

    These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

    Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

    6. No Alternative

    This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

    Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

    Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

    Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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    7. Stress

    As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

    When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

    We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

    If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

    8. Sense of Failure

    People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

    Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

    Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

    If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

    9. The Need to Be All-New

    People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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    These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

    10. Force of Habit

    Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

    Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

    These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

    Final Thoughts

    These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

    There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

    More on Breaking Bad Habits

    Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
    [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
    [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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