Pleural Thickening And The Effects Of Asbestos Exposure


The Law Of… Understanding Asbestos Exposure

The effects of asbestos exposure can lead to reduced respiratory function and increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. A less commonly known effect of asbestos exposure is pleural thickening.

Asbestos claims solicitor, Phillip Gower, provides insight into this lesser known condition.

What Is Pleural Thickening?

Pleural thickening is a lung disease where scarring thickens the lining of the lungs (the pleura) and can be caused by asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibres are inhaled they are carried into the lower region of the lung and cause changes to occur in the lining of the chest cavity.

Unlike other conditions caused by asbestos exposure, pleural thickening is not cancer. It is often associated with mesothelioma and can be a precursor of this asbestos-related cancer. Pleural thickening is not deadly on its own and quality of life can still be achieved through a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment and maintenance.  

What Causes Pleural Thickening?

If you have had prolonged asbestos exposure in your life, you could be at risk of pleural thickening. Exposure to asbestos usually comes through employment and there are some types of jobs that put workers more at risk than others.

Jobs that cause pleural thickening in workers include:

It is also possible to develop pleural thickening and mesothelioma from asbestos exposure within the home, but this is more unusual.

The hazardous properties of all types of asbestos were not recognised until the year 2000. As a result, it was still being used as a building material up until this point. A lack of safety measures in the past has meant that many people in a variety of jobs were exposed to asbestos unknowingly. Unfortunately, this also still happens on occasion now.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pleural Thickening Of The Lung?

The symptoms of pleural thickening vary from person to person and often depend on the progression of the disease. Because pleural thickening, like mesothelioma, has a long latency period, it can take anywhere between a few months and 30 years for you to develop symptoms.

Pleural thickening causes:

  • Breathlessness
  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pain

Essentially, pleural thickening reduces lung function as it reduces air entry.

Is Pleural Thickening Curable?

Pleural thickening is irreversible. However, there are therapies available to treat the symptoms it causes. Prescription medications such as steroids can make breathing easier for individuals with pleural thickening. If breathlessness is severe, surgery to remove some of the thickened pleura is considered but is not usually very effective.

Keeping active, whilst sometimes difficult, can also be an important part of pulmonary rehabilitation. It is important to consult a specialist in pulmonary rehabilitation in order to gain a physical exercise programme developed specifically for your needs. Physical exertion can be dangerous for those with breathlessness because of their reduced lung capacity.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation sessions are usually held in local hospitals, community halls and leisure centres and can be a great way to find out safe ways to exercise as well as meeting people in the same situation as you.

Can I Claim For Pleural Thickening?

If you have developed pleural thickening as a result of asbestos exposure at the workplace, you could be entitled to a pleural thickening claim. If you wish to pursue a pleural thickening claim, you will need some details of your past and present employment. This provides a starting point for specialist asbestos claims solicitors to investigate where your asbestos exposure could have come from.

Most personal injury claims have a 3 year time limit associated with them, meaning that claimants must begin the legal process of a claim within 3 years of an incident taking place. However, in cases of asbestos exposure, the 3 year time limit begins at the point at which you realise you are suffering from an asbestos related disease. This is because conditions related to exposure to asbestos notoriously have a long-latency period, meaning the 3 year time limit is not appropriate from the point of exposure.

How Can Simpson Millar Help With My Pleural Thickening Claim?

Simpson Millar's Industrial Disease team have many years' of experience in seeking compensation for those who have developed conditions as a result of asbestos exposure. They recognise the need for an empathetic approach to asbestos related claims and aim to keep you informed every step of the way through the legal process. They have been successful in gaining compensation for clients, even in circumstances where the company they worked for no longer exists.

Phillip comments:

"Pleural thickening, whilst not deadly itself, is still a debilitating condition. One of the reasons it is possible to claim for asbestos related conditions is because employers were aware of the risks involved with asbestos and either chose to ignore the fact or made poor attempts at protecting workers."

"It's important to remember that there is a lot of help available help for those suffering with breathlessness because of pleural thickening. Pulmonary rehabilitation sessions are not only effective and informative, they can be a great way for sufferers to realise they are not alone."

"Compensation for pleural thickening can help clients wishing to make their home more suitable for someone suffering with breathlessness. Items such as chair-lifts can be revolutionary for someone who gets breathless easily."

If you think you are suffering from pleural thickening or any other asbestos related condition because of the carelessness of another, call our asbestos claims team now for a free phone consultation.

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