Pleurisy

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the double-layered membrane that surrounds each lung and the rib cage. The pleura protects and lubricates the surface of the lungs as they inflate and deflate within the rib cage. When they become inflamed, the diseased surfaces rub painfully together.

  • Causes

    There are several causes for either acute or chronic pleurisy.

    • Viral infection such as influenza and cold viruses
    • Lung infections from bacteria like tuberculosis or parasites like amebiasis
    • Pulmonary embolism
    • Collapsed lung (Pneumothorax)

  • Definition

    Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the double-layered membrane that surrounds each lung and the rib cage. The pleura protects and lubricates the surface of the lungs as they inflate and deflate within the rib cage. When they become inflamed, the diseased surfaces rub painfully together.

    Pleura of the Lungs
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The pain associated with pleurisy can be enough to diagnose the condition. A stethoscope will be used to listen for abnormal chest sounds, such as a friction rub or pneumonia sounds. The next step is determining the illness that caused the pleurisy.

    Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • Chest x-ray
    • CT scan
    • Ultrasound

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Blood test
    • Fluid analysis after thoracentesis
    • Biopsy
      of the pleura with video-associated thoracic surgery (VATS)

    Your heart's activity may be tested. This can be done with an EKG.

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chances of getting pleurisy, take the following steps:

    • Seek early medical attention for conditions that can cause pleurisy.
    • Ask your doctor if you should get a
      pneumonia vaccine
      and the flu shot, especially if you are elderly, have a chronic illness, or weakened immunity.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chances of having pleurisy include:

    • An underlying lung condition
      , such as cystic fibrosis or emphysema
    • Systemic lupus
    • After a heart attack such as Dressler’s syndrome
    • Asbestos
    • Chest injury
    • Heart failure
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Pancreatitis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Cancer
    • Chronic liver and kidney disease
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Drug reaction

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of pleurisy include:

    • Sharp, stabbing pain towards the side and lower part of the chest
    • Pain along the shoulders, neck, and abdomen
    • Pain during any movement of the chest, such as breathing and coughing
    • Dry coughing
    • Fever
    • Rapid pulse
    • Rapid and shallow breathing

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:


    If you are diagnosed with pleurisy, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .