Understanding pleural effusion

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is not always dangerous to humans. However, when it's breathed into the lungs or enters the stomach lining, it can embed itself, cause scarring and lead to cancer.

There are many different diseases people may suffer as a result of exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma and asbestosis are two, but others include lung cancer, diffuse plural thickening and pleural effusion.

Of these, pleural effusion is probably one of the least discussed. This is not a cancer, and it's potentially less dangerous than other injuries caused by asbestos. However, it can get to a state of being life-threatening in some instances.

What is pleural effusion?

Pleural effusion occurs when there is an excessive buildup of fluid between the pleura, the layers outside the lungs. These thin membranes help with breathing by acting as lubrication inside the chest cavity.

There always has to be a small amount of fluid in the pleura, but when too much builds up, it can lead to trouble breathing. Pleural effusion can lead to difficulty breathing when lying down, shortness of breath, dry coughing and chest pain.

Pleural effusion is treatable with diuretics, chemotherapy (if malignant) or a chest tube, known as a tube thoracostomy. If the effusion can't be controlled, sclerosing agents might be used to create more fibrous tissues, which can prevent further recurrences.

This is not always a life-threatening injury, but it can be life-altering. If you're impacted due to asbestos exposure, you still have the right to look into seeking compensation for the exposure that has led to your injuries.

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