Pleural disease is marked by plaque scarring or thickening of the pleural membrane, the lining that surrounds the lungs. The disease is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, and it damages the exterior lining of the lungs in much the same way that asbestosis damages the interior. With pleural disease, however, the fibers in the lungs have worked their way outwards to the outer lining of the lung, where they cause similar inflammation and scarring.
As with other asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, pleural disease has a long latency period and can take many years or decades to develop. As the scarring and thickening of the membrane progress, breathing can become more difficult. Fluid may also build up around the membrane (pleural effusion), putting further pressure on the lungs.
Although pleural disease is not life-threatening by itself, it can put patients at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer later on in life. Those people who have developed pleural disease as a result of asbestos exposure on a jobsite or premises may have strong grounds for a personal injury claim.
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