Nowadays, it is well-known that a history of heavy asbestos exposure places you at high risk for mesothelioma, as well as for other serious diseases. However, the symptoms which occur with mesothelioma are vague and can easily be mistaken for the signs of less severe conditions, so it is very important to pay close attention to your health if you have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Pleural effusion appears as a result of the inflammation produced by asbestos fibers in the lungs and it often indicates the onset of pleural mesothelioma.
There is a natural amount of fluid between the two layers of the pleura, the protective membrane which covers the lungs. When mesothelioma or another inflammatory condition occurs, the pleura will secret excess fluid which will continue to accumulate in the chest cavity. Pleural effusion might also be a symptom of asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer. The most common signs of pleural effusion include:
- sharp chest pain which intensifies when coughing or taking deep breaths
- a dry cough
- shortness of breath
- clubbed fingers
- chest tightness
If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, please seek medical assistance immediately. Pleural effusion can lead to a series of complications, the most serious being a collapsed lung (pneumothorax), which happens when air escapes from the organ. Another severe complication of pleural effusion is empyema, the accumulation of pus in the lungs due to infection.