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Asbestos and Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening can occur as a result of being exposed to asbestos over an extended period of time. Its symptoms and occurrence (can be both) is benign (and malignant), (so) but it is vital that you are aware of Pleural Thickening and its effects; especially if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

What is Pleural Thickening?

The majority of asbestos related diseases stem from the inhalation of it’s potentially toxic fibres. Overexposure to asbestos can cause many problems (surrounding) around the lungs’ pleural membrane. Pleural thickening is a form of lung disease which consists of the extensive thickening or scarring of this membrane. The areas in which Pleural Thickening occur are the visceral, the inner lining that covers the lung, and the parietal, which covers parts outside the lung such as the ribcage and diaphragm. The extensive thickening or scarring of this membrane restricts the movement of the lungs against the chest wall. This consequently causes discomfort, pain and difficulty of breathing. Pleural Thickening can take place in one or both lungs and is most commonly referred to as ‘Diffuse Pleural Thickening’. Pleural thickening as a result of exposure from asbestos is usually benign. However, the presence of thickening can be symptoms for other more malignant issues, such as a form of cancer called Pleural Mesothelioma.

Why does Pleural Thickening occur?

Over a substantial period of time and exposure to asbestos, the fibres can get trapped within the pleural membrane, which consequently causes inflammation and irritation. In an act of natural defence, the body will form scar tissue on the infected area in attempt to begin the healing process. If this occurs excessively, it will result in a slow build-up of scar tissue which will form a thick layer around the lung. This thick layer is mainly caused by excessive asbestos exposure and will diminish lung function as it restricts the movement within the chest cavity. This then results in pain, discomfort, breathing difficulties and thus (ly) the condition of Pleural Thickening.

Asbestos related Pleural Thickening alone is an irreversible condition that can either be maintained by routine health checks or actions specified by your doctor. However, the occurrence of Pleural thickening can also be a sign of something more serious.

Due to the excessive harm on a concentrated area over a substantial amount of time, the harm caused by repetitive irritation can also trigger cancerous effects. Pleural Thickening and its symptoms can be an indication of lung cancer or Pleural Mesothelioma.

This is why it is important to seek medical advice if you have ever been exposed to asbestos, and/or possess any of the symptoms stated below.

Symptoms of Pleural Thickening
Pleural Thickening takes years to form and may not show symptoms in the early stages. This is why it is crucial to be checked regularly by a doctor, especially if you have had known exposure to asbestos.

With that said, the most common symptoms of Pleural Thickening are:

  • A tight chest
  • Breathlessness
  • A cough that will not go away

As previously discussed, the symptoms of Pleural Thickening can mirror a variation of other asbestos related diseases and health issues. Pleural Thickening should not be confused with Pleural Effusion or Pleural Plaques.

Pleural Effusion is a serious health condition, especially if left untreated. It is the name given when fluid secreted by the pleural membrane becomes excessive and causes pressure on the lungs. Pleural Effusion is not just caused by asbestos exposure, but other conditions such as pneumonia or some forms of cancer. Pleural Effusion holds very similar symptoms to Pleural Thickening, so it is vital you see a doctor if you are experiencing any of the above. This way, more serious illnesses can be ruled out or caught early to assist with effective treatment.

Pleural Plaques are mainly known as the benign and less serious health issue that can be linked to asbestos exposure. It refers to the thickening of the parietal lining which occurs when potentially toxic fibres cause irritation. It’s the least detrimental form of lung scarring but (has the risk of developing into something much more serious down the line.) is evidence of asbestos exposure that may cause a more serious asbestos related condition to develop.

Being Diagnosed
Due to the physical build-up of scar tissue on the lungs, many medical professionals will use imaging scans to conjure a visual diagnosis of Pleural Thickening. This can be achieved via;

– Chest X-Rays
This can show the first signs of Pleural Thickening due to unnatural shadows on the lung

– CT Scans
These can detect early signs of Pleural Thickening on the lungs, as well as any anomalies that the X-Ray may have missed.

– PET and MRI Scans
These can be used to differentiate between Pleural Thickening and Pleural Mesothelioma.

As previously stated, Pleural Thickening is an irreversible condition which can only be improved by regular health checks and actions advised by your doctor. In severe cases and those related to Pleural Mesothelioma, surgery can be recommended. Forms of treatment include:

– Prescribed Medication
Such as steroids

– Monitored health and an advised healthy lifestyle
Such as avoiding smoking or drinking

– Pulmonary Rehabilitation
This has proven to be effective when treating Pleural Thickening. It consists of a programme of regular exercise to keep you active, as well as educational information from medical professionals to keep you informed about your condition and what you can do to help yourself. Exercise classes as well as informative courses are provided by the NHS to ensure full support through your condition.

Due to many being exposed to asbestos and obtaining asbestos related diseases through work, many may be able to receive compensation through asbestos personal injury claims. Suffering from Pleural Thickening as well as other asbestos related illnesses will undoubtedly bring stress and turmoil upon you and your family. It can force you out of work, as well as subject you to lifelong discomfort and health defects. Additionally, innocent others may have developed asbestos related illnesses from secondary inhalation.

By law, your place of work has to provide a level of protection for their employees against harmful substances. We have a team of experienced and well-equipped solicitors who are waiting to help you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with or passed away from an asbestos-related illness don’t hesitate to contact us at Asbestos Health Check. We are here for you and to help you get the necessary advice about your condition, how best to cope with it and advise you on any benefits/compensation you may be entitled to. Feel free to contact us at;