Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate asbestos fibers from a person’s lungs completely. Since individual asbestos fibers are so small and are not visible, they can easily enter a person’s airway without the person even knowing about it. The asbestos fibers then stick to the lining of a person’s lungs where many of the fibers will likely remain permanently. Some forms of asbestos may be naturally cleared by the lungs, or coughed back up as mucous but in many cases, the asbestos fibers are there to stay. The fibers that are lodged deepest in the lung take the longest to remove, and often times they move throughout the lungs for many years.
Asbestos present in a person’s lungs can lead to scarring, which is irreversible. Scarring in and of itself can have negative health consequences. Therefore, asbestos exposure leads to a series of increasing consequences that can quickly escalate if not confronted head on once a person becomes aware he or she has been exposed to asbestos. Because asbestos fibers will likely stay in a person’s lungs indefinitely, there is a risk that a person will develop asbestos-related health conditions later on in life, namely, mesothelioma, a potentially fatal cancer. Mesothelioma is not a curable disease, so quick action early on is the best way to help mitigate the disease later on in life.
While asbestos fibers typically remain in a person’s lungs forever, there are steps worth taking to keep lungs as healthy as possible and help prevent the harm of asbestos exposure that may lurk around the corner decades later.
Such steps include:
- quitting smoking,
- staying up to date on vaccines for the flu and pneumonia,
- limiting future asbestos exposure,
- and seeking routine medical examinations.