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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 January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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