By James Parker
August 30, 2022

What Is Fibrosis?

The medical term fibrosis describes the development of fibrous connective tissue as a response to injury or damage. Fibrosis is a normal, reparative process designed to promote healing, but it can become harmful when fibrosis occurs in a sensitive organ or area of the body.

In general, there are three major forms of fibrosis: cardiac fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, and pulmonary fibrosis. These conditions relate to repeated irritation of the heart, liver, and lungs respectively.

Cardiac fibrosis is a condition in which fibrous connective tissue builds up in the heart, potentially obstructing blood flow through the organ. In general, cardiac fibrosis occurs after a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack. This leads to the body attempting to repair the damaged tissue, resulting in fibrosis. 

When fibrous tissue builds up in the heart, the valves of the heart and the cardiac muscle can become stiff and unyielding, which increases the risk of heart failure. Additionally, the increased activities of fibrocytes can cause the tricuspid and pulmonary valves to become thickened and lead to valvular dysfunction.

Liver cirrhosis is a fibrotic condition where scar tissues replace liver tissue and damage liver function. Liver cirrhosis most commonly results from other conditions such as alcoholism, fatty liver disease, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. The liver gets damaged by these conditions and then attempts to heal itself. Over time this process results in scarring of the liver and liver cirrhosis. The more advanced the cirrhosis, the less liver functionality is preserved. 

Liver cirrhosis may lead to easier bruising, fatigue, weight loss, jaundice, or many other conditions associated with liver failure. Depending on the stage of the cirrhosis, progress can be slowed or even stopped and the symptoms can be mitigated. Additionally, treating an individual’s underlying conditions contributing to liver cirrhosis can help improve the patient’s condition.

Pulmonary fibrosis is an umbrella term for several conditions that cause lung damage through repeated scarring. Pulmonary fibrosis can lead to a loss of lung elasticity, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and fatigue. Pulmonary fibrosis can develop over many years as the initial cause repeatedly damages the lungs and fibrotic tissue, then scars over.

Some of the most common risk factors for pulmonary fibrosis include exposure to several carcinogens and other related health conditions. Some conditions that lead to pulmonary fibrosis include:

  • Tobacco usage, including smoking or chewing
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia

Pulmonary fibrosis can be treated or results in a lung transplant if it is too advanced. 

Key Takeaways

  • Fibrosis refers to the buildup of fibrous connective tissue as part of the healing process but can often become problematic if it occurs in a vital organ.
  • Pathologic fibrosis can occur in the heart, liver, or lungs as cardiac fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, or pulmonary fibrosis respectively.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by exposure to asbestos in addition to other factors.
  • If you have been exposed to asbestos and have developed fibrosis or other asbestos-related diseases, an experienced Personal Injury attorney may be able to improve the outcome of your case by utilizing experience and expert knowledge.

Fibrosis, Asbestos, and Personal Injury Law

While many things can cause fibrosis, asbestos can be a significant source of irritation. Because of the properties of asbestos, the mineral can easily fragment into microparticles that drift into the air. This leads to asbestos becoming airborne and easily inhalable. 

Inhaled asbestos can lead to a number of health complications, including pleural disease, asbestosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and mesothelioma. In general, pulmonary fibrosis breaks down into three subtypes: replacement fibrosis, focal fibrosis, and diffuse parenchymal lung disease (DPLD).

Replacement fibrosis is a buildup of scar tissue causing damage based on infections or infarctions. The most common causes of replacement fibrosis are pneumonia or tuberculosis.

Focal fibrosis is a pulmonary condition that occurs in response to irritation caused by inhaled substances carried to lymphatic tissues by macrophages. The most common vector for focal fibrosis is exposure to asbestos and other silicates. This places workers in industries such as shipbuilding, automotive manufacturing, or mining substances, including silica, talc, and asbestos.

Finally, DPLD is a fibrosis condition that arises when the alveoli in the lungs become damaged and scarred over time. DPLD may present with no initial cause, resulting in it being labeled as “idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.” DPLD may also occur from repeated exposure to allergens like dust or animal dander.

The final type of fibrosis that may affect the lungs is cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive organs, and other bodily organs. The conditions caused by cystic fibrosis lead to pleural fluids becoming sticky and thick. This means that rather than pleural fluid allowing lung tissues to slide by one another, the tissue sticks together, plugging ducts and pathways in the lungs. While asbestos doesn’t cause cystic fibrosis, the inhalation of asbestos can irritate and exacerbate cystic fibrosis.

Bottom Line

If you have been exposed to any form of asbestos and have developed health complications, including fibrosis or other asbestos pleural disease, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the costs of medical expenses, pain, suffering, or lost wages. In order to file and prevail in your personal injury lawsuit, you will need the help of an experienced Personal Injury Attorney.

With their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Personal Injury attorney will be able to zealously advocate for you in order to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Additionally, since Personal Injury attorneys work on contingency, if you don’t win, you don’t pay.

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