There is currently no cure for diffuse pleural thickening. However, the outlook (prognosis) is often good as, for many people, the condition does not worsen with time.
Worsening of symptoms
Pleural thickening can take many years to develop, often around 20 and for many the symptoms will be mild. However some patients may suffer an increase in:-
An individual may start to notice breathlessness on exertion eg climbing the stairs. In some individuals this disability can be significant such that a person may have difficulty walking on level ground.
This is partly because the lungs are less elastic and cannot inflate properly. The impaired lung function can go on to cause a general disability in the individual. Doctors can prescribe medications to help ease.
Build up of fluid
An individual may suffer a build-up of fluid between the lung and the chest wall (pleural effusion) this can be drained by a Doctor to ease the symptoms.
Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer
There is a slightly increased risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer in those with pleural thickening.
Is Pleural Thickening on the increase?
The HSE have reported an increase in the number of cases being assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. There were 440 such cases in 2011 compared to 150 in 1991.