Symptoms of Benzene Diseases
Benzene is used for a wide variety of commercial and industrial purposes, most notably as a precursor in the production of a number of other chemicals. However, benzene now faces strict regulation (limiting its use) because of the many serious diseases that have been linked with benzene exposure.
The most serious of the benzene-related diseases include various types of leukemia (acute myelogenous leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia) and a bone marrow disease called aplastic anemia. There are a number of symptoms associated with the development of any of the aforementioned benzene diseases.
Symptoms of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
The symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia are associated with the lack of production of normal blood cells resulting from an overproduction of malignant white blood cells (myeloblasts). The lack of production of immune system white blood cells called neutrophils leaves the body susceptible to infection. The most common presenting symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia may be perceived to be similar to a number of common illnesses such as influenza.
The symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia can include:
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Persistent / chronic infections
- Bone pain
- Joint pain
- Bruising / bleeding
- Swelling of the gums
Symptoms of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
As a result of the nature of chronic myelogenous leukemia, sufferers are often asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis. Routine blood tests can return an elevated white blood count that, upon further investigation, results in an eventual diagnosis of CML. Unlike AML, CML can remain dormant in the body for years without causing significant harm. A case of CML can enter into what is termed an "accelerated" or "blast crisis" phase in which the disease mimics AML.
The symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia can include:
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Low grade fever
- General discomfort (malaise)
- Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
Symptoms of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
The symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia result from abnormally high levels of abnormal white blood cells (lymphoblasts) in the blood. The symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia often present in a generalized manner; however, if left untreated, they can worsen to the point of emergency.
The symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia can include:
- Breathlessness (dyspnea)
- Bone pain
- Joint pain
- Excessive bruising / bleeding
- Frequent / chronic fever and/or infection
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Enlarged liver or spleen
Acute lymphocytic leukemia is typically diagnosed through evaluation of a patient's complete blood count. Unfortunately, as many as 10% of ALL sufferers can present with normal blood film, making it impossible to diagnose the disease based on blood work alone. If a physician suspects ALL and blood film is normal, a bone marrow biopsy can be performed to examine for lymphoblasts.
Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia is different than the aforementioned benzene-related diseases because it is not a type of leukemia; however, aplastic anemia is similar to a leukemic disease in the sense that it is a disease of the blood and bone marrow.
The symptoms of aplastic anemia are associated with an insufficient production of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the bone marrow. This blood cell deficiency results from a bone marrow abnormality that inhibits the required production of blood cells.
People suffering from aplastic anemia typically suffer from chronic infections or run continuously high fevers because of a lack of white blood cells capable of fighting off infection. A low platelet count can lead to increased risk of chronic bruising and hemorrhage because platelets help to promote blood clotting. A low red blood cell count can elicit a feeling of general discomfort (malaise), chronic fatigue and pallor.
Although the latest medical advances provide leukemia and aplastic anemia patients with several treatment options, these therapies can causes serious side effects, such as nausea and extreme fatigue. In addition, treatments for leukemia and aplastic anemia are often very costly. In cases whereby the onset of leukemia or aplastic anemia can be linked to benzene exposure, victims might be able to force those responsible for their suffering to provide rightful compensation. Due to statutory time limitations and other legal obstacles, victims should contact experienced personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. In cases whereby benzene-exposure victims have died, their families typically have about one year to contact wrongful death attorneys and initiate appropriate legal action.