Asbestos-related conditions are not just confined to cancer. There are other serious asbestos-related conditions that can have a debilitating effect on your day-to-day life, including diffuse pleural thickening. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are on average 430 new cases of diffuse pleural thickening each year.
What is pleural disease?
Pleural disease can develop as a direct result of being exposed to asbestos – a natural but toxic material that was once used widely in certain industries. Pleural disease includes:
- Pleural plaques
- Pleural thickening (known as diffuse pleural thickening)
Other asbestos-related conditions include:
What are pleural plaques?
The lungs are surrounded by a lining (or membrane) called the pleura. There are two layers to the lining – the inner pleura which lines the lungs and the outer pleura which lines the chest wall – and between the two membranes is a fluid. Pleural plaques are small areas of thickening, rather like scarring, of the pleura and are caused by asbestos fibres that have made their way from the lungs and into the lining. This is a benign, non-cancerous condition. The plaques themselves are harmless and do not usually cause any symptoms or require treatment and, for this reason, no compensation can usually be claimed for pleural plaques alone.
What is diffuse pleural thickening?
Diffuse pleural thickening occurs when the thickening of the pleura is more widespread. Depending on the extent of the scarring, it can squeeze the underlying lung and may cause breathlessness and discomfort. This is also a benign, non-cancerous condition, but, unlike pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening can give rise to a claim for compensation.
What causes diffuse pleural thickening?
Exposure to asbestos is often the cause of diffuse pleural thickening, although there are other possible causes too. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of millions of microfibres that, when breathed in, can cause scarring of the pleural membrane and can lead to pleural disease.
Asbestos was once celebrated as a miracle substance due to its fire and heat resistant properties. However, even when the dangers of asbestos exposure became known, many employers did nothing to protect their staff. This meant that workers would regularly handle asbestos, or work near to where it was being handled, without any protection, especially those in construction, shipbuilding, the railways and even some factories. Due to its adverse effect on health, asbestos was eventually banned in all forms in 1999, but the material can still be found in many buildings, both residential and commercial, if they were built before the year 2000. Due to the nature of the industries where asbestos was prevalent, it is more common for men than women to contract an asbestos-related disease.
What are the symptoms of diffuse pleural thickening?
The symptoms of diffuse pleural thickening may include:
- Chest pain, discomfort or tightness
Asbestos-related conditions like diffuse pleural thickening tend to have a long incubation period, meaning that you may not develop any symptoms for years or even decades after exposure.
Compensation for diffuse pleural thickening
If you are suffering from diffuse pleural thickening and were exposed to asbestos in the workplace, you may be able to claim compensation, even if your employer has now gone out of business.
If you have any questions or want to know if you have a claim for yourself or on behalf of a close relative, contact Dedicated Accident Solicitors on 01332 897 222 or send us a message here.
Read about just a few of our successful asbestos claim cases: