Symptoms and side effects of asbestos exposure do not develop overnight. It can take ten, twenty, thirty, or even forty years or longer for symptoms to appear. Much like the development of mesothelioma and other cancers, it takes a significant amount of time for the body to react to the negative effects of asbestos exposure. While any person exposed to asbestos can develop symptoms (whether such exposure happens in the home, the workplace, or another setting), individuals who are exposed to asbestos on a regular basis are much more likely to develop symptoms and side effects down the road.
Asbestos fibers are very tiny, and typically can only be seen with a microscope. It takes numerous years, if not decades, for multiple asbestos fibers to adhere to a person’s lungs. It is only after there is a substantial number of asbestos fibers that people develop symptoms and side effects of exposure, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue, among others. Therefore, for most individuals, symptoms of asbestos exposure will not show up for a long period of time.
However, because asbestos exposure affects people differently based on their own level of exposure and preexisting health conditions, some people may develop symptoms shortly after asbestos exposure, and some people may not experience any symptoms at all for many decades. In fact, some people exposed to asbestos may develop mesothelioma without ever having experienced any symptoms. Therefore, the best way to monitor whether asbestos exposure is causing or contributing to cause a health condition is to seek evaluation and treatment by a medical professional. Additionally, people who believe they are suffering from asbestos exposure should take measures to limit, if not eliminate, the source of asbestos so that the damage of exposure does not continue to worsen.