When it comes to accidents and injuries at work, the mind tends to immediately leap to trips and falls, falling objects and other incidents which cause immediately obvious physical injuries. However, though these work injuries may be painful, on the whole the victim can recover totally. It’s a different story with work-related illnesses that build up over time.
One example of an illness that can be attributed to working conditions and cause all manner of health problems is pleural thickening.
What kind of accidents at work cause pleural thickening?
Pleural thickening is an extremely serious condition whereby the pleura, the thin membrane that covers the lungs, is thickened due to extensive scarring. This causes scar tissue to grow, which in turn can shut off the space between the lungs and the pleura, encasing the lung in the process.
So, what causes pleural thickening? Well, there are a number of potential causes, but top of the list is exposure to asbestos. Consistent inhalation of asbestos fibres can, over time, cause them to become embedded in the pleura. This causes an inflammation which in turn leads to the build up of scar tissue.
What are the symptoms of pleural thickening?
Part of the reason pleural thickening is such a complicated condition is that initially there may be no symptoms. However, as the illness progresses, victims are likely to experience significant chest pains and breathing difficulties. Pleural thickening can also develop into restrictive lung disease which causes further, more severe, respiratory problems. Alarmingly, it usually takes 15-20 years before the presence of pleural thickening makes itself known in victims.
Can pleural thickening be treated?
Whilst there is no cure for pleural thickening, there are ways of coping with the disease. Various pain medications, such as steroids and antibiotics, can help with breathing whilst therapy courses to help cope with symptoms are also offered. Unfortunately, this is just about the only extent to which pleural thickening can be dealt with.
The nature of pleural thickening and other work-related illnesses mean that they are exempt from the standard ‘the accident must have occurred within the last three years’ rule for work injury compensation.
Therefore, if the nature of your working conditions has caused an illness, remember you may be due compensation. Our expert legal team at Accident Advice Helpline has years of experience in processing injury claims and work on a no-win, no-fee* basis.
Date Published: July 8, 2014
Author: Accident Advice