Pleural Thickening Compensation Claims

Pleural thickening, or diffuse pleural thickening (DPT) is a lung disease which occurs when extensive scarring thickens the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura.  The disease can stop your lungs from expanding correctly, leading to breathlessness.

What are the symptoms of pleural thickening?

The most common symptoms of pleural thickening are:

  • Breathlessness – pulmonary function tests may show that your lung capacity has reduced resulting in a restrictive defect on your lung function;
  • Chest pain;
  • Feeling that your chest is tight.

In some people, once the disease has developed, it remains stable. However, if it progresses your breathing problems could get worse over time.

What causes pleural thickening?

The disease is often caused by being exposed to asbestos over a period of time. Pleural thickening can develop after lower levels of exposure to asbestos compared to asbestos related fibrosis (asbestosis).  Once you have inhaled asbestos, it settles on the lining of the lungs and can cause scarring, thickening and calcification. This is sadly incurable. Pleural thickening commonly develops around 10 to 50 years after you have been exposed to asbestos.

You can also develop pleural thickening because of infection, inflammatory disease, chemotherapy, lupus, etc. However, this usually presents itself in only one lung. Asbestos related pleural thickening is usually found in both lungs (bilateral) because the asbestos fibres have been breathed into both lungs at the same time.

Who is at risk of developing pleural thickening?

You are more likely to develop the disease if you have been exposed to asbestos over a period of time. Some jobs put people at greater risk of being exposed to asbestos. For example, the following professionals could face higher risks:

  • Building surveyors;
  • Laggers;
  • Cable layers;
  • Electricians;
  • Plumbers;
  • Heating engineers;
  • Carpenters/joiners;
  • Fire fighters;
  • Gas fitters;
  • Miners;
  • Plasterers;
  • Shipbuilders;
  • Fitters.

This list is, of course, not exhaustive.

How is pleural thickening diagnosed?

The most common test used to diagnose pleural thickening is a chest x-ray or a CT scan. A CT scan involves using a special machine to take a picture of a cross-section of your body.

In more severe cases it may be necessary for you to undergo a PET scan. A PET scan will help a doctor to distinguish between pleural thickening and pleural mesothelioma, a serious, incurable asbestos related cancer.

Treatment

Because the scarring of the lung tissue is irreversible, unfortunately, there is no known cure for pleural thickening. Therefore, treatment for the disease focuses on reducing the symptoms, but as the British Lung Foundation suggests, some people can manage their symptoms through lifestyle changes. For example, by quitting smoking and becoming more active. If your breathlessness is more moderate, medication such as steroids may help to ease some of your symptoms.

Studies have also shown pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) to be effective in treating symptoms. This is a programme involving exercise and education for people with a long-term lung condition. The team helping you could include physiotherapists, nurses, and occupational therapists.

If you suffer from severe breathlessness, one of the most common treatments for the disease is thoracentesis or pleural drainage. This surgery removes any excess fluid that has built up between your lungs and the pleura. As this fluid restricts your lungs’ ability to expand and contract, removing it can reduce your breathlessness and pain.

How can we help?

We help people every year claim compensation for pleural thickening. Compensation helps people to secure a sense of justice, and pay for better medical care. You can contact us for free today on 0800 078 6767. We offer free advice, and will be able to quickly tell you if you have a claim. If you would like to see how much a claim could be worth, you can use our calculator by clicking here.