Recognizing asbestos-related pleurisy

Aug 6, 2020 | Asbestos-related Diseases

Asbestos exposure remains a veritable “bogeyman” to many people in St. Louis. This is likely because the condition most commonly associated with it is cancer. Many of those exposed to asbestos may feel as though they were able to dodge a significant bullet if they do not come down with cancer. Yet cancer is not the only condition that asbestos contributes to.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asbestos exposure can lead to pleurisy. This particular ailment may not have as devastating potential as cancer, yet that does not mean that is should not cause concern.

What is pleurisy?

Per the Mayo Clinic, pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura. This is the outer two layers of tissue of the lungs that separate them from the chest wall. A layer of liquid follows between these layers, yet the inflammation caused by pleurisy causes them to rub together, causing irritation.

The most common symptoms of pleurisy are chest pain and difficulty breathing. In a few cases, one might also experience a fever or cough. Yet people may not want to rely solely on symptoms to determine the extent of their conditions. Pleurisy is often accompanied by pleural effusion, which is a buildup of fluid in between the layers of the pleura. This may temporarily relieve the chest pain caused by pleurisy, but it may quickly return to a greater extent (with even more symptoms).

Treatment options

Treatment for one’s pleurisy depends on the severity of their condition. Antibiotics and steroid medications can relieve one’s symptoms, and swift treatment may make a complete recovery likely. However, doctors may include a thoracoscopy in one’s treatment plan. This involves making an incision in the chest wall to examine the pleural space and obtain a biopsy to check for more serious conditions (such as lung cancer).