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Pleural Thickening, The Causes and Symptoms

Health & Wellness | December 30th, 2009 No comments

Pleural thickening is the result of membranes thickening which is most often due to inflammation.

The lungs lining, the pleura, is made up of thin membranes. These membranes cover the lungs and are able to provide both support and protection to them. Pleural thickening can be caused by diseases like tuberculosis or sarcoidosis; however, the most common link of pleural thickening is to that of mesothelioma or asbestosis. Mesothelioma and asbestosis are caused by exposure to the toxin asbestos.

The pleural thickening is one of the most common side effects of asbestos exposure and the thickening can serve as an early warning of mesothelioma or asbestosis. Basically the thickening of the membranes occurs due to both constant irritation and inflammation from the asbestos fiber ingestion. When asbestos fibers are ingested they lodge into the lungs and work their way in. The fibers are very small, so small in fact that they can’t even be seen by the naked eye. The lungs and the membranes of the lung are very delicate and the fibers can cause massively widespread damage when ingested.

When pleural thickening happens due to asbestos exposure it will occur in combination with other types of pleural disease, mainly fibrosis and effusion.

Pleural fibrosis is the enlargement of excess amounts of connective tissues. This occurs due to the lungs trying to repair themselves from the damages caused by the asbestos.

Pleural effusion is when the correlating inflammation leads to fluid accumulation between the lining of the lungs and the lungs themselves.

All of these factors of the thickening, fibrosis and the effusion of the pleural membranes are all normally characteristically associated with asbestosis; however, they are not limited to that as they can also be seen in cases of mesothelioma. Changes that are happening with the lungs tissue will have dire consequences as it will eventually lead to serious decreasing of the lungs ability to function.

People that are afflicted with asbestosis will often experience:

  • Dry cough
  • Chest pains
  • Difficulties breathing

Part of the reason this happens is due to the lungs becoming rigid and being unable to inflate due to the thickening, effusion and fibrosis.

Pleural thickening can come with both asbestosis and mesothelioma; however, it does have other causes that aren’t related to asbestos as well as listed above.

It’s also been found that the condition hemothorax can occur with all of the pleural symptoms as well. That happens when there is blood present in the chest cavity.

Pleural membrane thickening isn’t a treatable condition. The pleural thickening isn’t a disease in and of itself it’s a symptom of a disease; such as, asbestosis. For this reason the treatments focal point is on the core cause that lead to the thickening.

There is no current cure for either asbestosis or mesothelioma. The only thing that can be done right now is to treat the symptoms as much as possible.

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