What is pleurisy?

Pleurisy is a respiratory disease characterized by inflammation of the outer lining of the lungs. This inflammation, along with fluid buildup, creates friction (commonly referred to as a pleural rub, when heard using a stethoscope) during breathing, resulting in sharp chest pain, usually on inspiration.

Certain lung disorders, such as pneumonia, asbestosis and tuberculosis, are common causes of pleurisy. Chest trauma and different types of lung cancers can also cause pleurisy. Systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues) is a potential cause of pleurisy. Sometimes the cause may not be identified.

While the main symptom of pleurisy is severe pain when taking even a shallow breath, some people with pleurisy have mild symptoms or just a cough. Treatment for pleurisy includes pain and cough control; treating the underlying cause, possibly with antibiotic therapy or by removing fluid from the pleural space; and prevention of complications such as lung collapse.

Healthy lifestyle practices can reduce the risk of lung infection for people with pleurisy, including good hand washing, drinking plenty of fluids, eating a well-balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and refraining from smoking.

In some cases, pleurisy can be associated with serious or life-threatening symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as severe difficulty breathing, severe sharp chest pain, bluish lips or fingernails, fast heart rate, and anxiety.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for pleurisy but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of pleurisy?

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs and may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of pleurisy

Pleurisy may include any number of common symptoms, which may become severe at any time. Examples include:


What causes pleurisy?

Pleurisy develops as the result of irritation and inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs, causing friction and pain during breathing. Certain lung diseases or conditions, such as pneumonia, asbestosis and tuberculosis, are common causes of pleurisy. Chest trauma and some types of lung cancers can also cause pleurisy.

Causes of pleurisy

A number of different co... Read more about pleurisycauses


How is pleurisy treated?

Treatment for pleurisy begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. The goal of treatment for pleurisy is to decrease shortness of breath, remove fluid from the pleural space, and resolve infection if present. Treatment depends on the severity of the pleurisy and the cause. Pain medications c... Read more about pleurisytreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Lungs, Breathing and Respiration

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