Many people think about asbestos exposure as exposure that happens when they breathe in asbestos. For example, if they had to participate in a demolition at work and asbestos fibers were in the air, they could have been exposed to asbestos in those moments by breathing in the fibers. Those fibers could then go down into the lungs and lodge themselves in the tissues.
While this is one way that you could be exposed to asbestos, it’s actually not the only way it can get into your body. The second pathway is through swallowing the material.
When do people swallow asbestos unknowingly?
Like in the example above, you could swallow asbestos unknowingly when you’re breathing it in and swallowing every few seconds. There are other circumstances that can lead to swallowing asbestos, too, though, such as if you:
- Consume food that was contaminated by asbestos
- Drank liquids that traveled through asbestos cement pipes
- Cough up asbestos you inhaled and then swallow it back down your throat
These are just a few examples of how you could both breathe in and swallow asbestos.
Swallowing asbestos may lead to mesothelioma in unusual places
If you swallow asbestos rather than breathe it in, you could have it travel throughout the body. Mesothelioma can form, for example, in the lungs, pleura, pericardium, heart, abdominal cavity and testicles. If that happens, you will need targeted treatment such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, to help minimize the risk of the condition worsening or spreading.
Mesothelioma isn’t the only asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma is somewhat common among asbestos-exposure victims, but other kinds of cancer, like larynx or ovarian cancer, can also form in some people. Asbestosis, another kind of lung disease, is also possible among those who develop illnesses from exposure to asbestos.
If you develop an asbestos-related disease, you may have options to seek compensation
If you were exposed to asbestos at work or through other circumstances, you may be able to pursue compensation. These illnesses can be difficult to treat, but you deserve the financial support you need to explore all your treatment options and support yourself as you go through them.