WHAT IS PLEURAL THICKENING?
Pleural thickening is scarring and hardening of the pleura, the lining which covers the lungs. When this occurs, it is increasingly difficult for the two layers of the pleura to slide over each other and, as such, for the lungs to expand. This generally causes breathlessness in sufferers.
Pleural thickening occurs due to asbestos exposure because asbestos particles are so small that they bypass the lungs filtration system. Most airborne particles are trapped in the lungs filtration system and stop them from doing any harm, however this is not the case with asbestos fibres. Once these particles are in the lungs, they become embedded in the pleura and can cause inflammation and scarring.
SYMPTOMS OF PLEURAL THICKENING
It usually takes around 20 years after exposure to asbestos for pleural thickening to show symptoms and it is important to note that not all cases show all or any symptoms. Those symptoms typically associated with pleural thickening, however, include:
Reduced chest wall movement
Impaired lung function
A persistent cough
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and have concerned that you may be suffering from pleural thickening, we strongly suggest that you visit your doctor as soon as possible who will discuss your symptoms with you in greater depth and offer a diagnosis.
GETTING A DIAGNOSIS OF PLEURAL THICKENING
Pleural thickening can be detected by an ultrasound scan. This shows an image of the lungs in which the thickened pleura appears differently from pleural fluid.
Pleural thickening can also be detected by a CT scan, which can show up an area as thin as 1 mm thick. It shows up clearly on CT scans as a layer of dense tissue between the chest wall and the lungs.
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