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 conditions may cause pleurisy including:

  • Asbestosis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Cancers
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary embolism associated with deep vein thrombosis
  • Rheumatic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)
  • Trauma or injury to the chest such as a rib fracture
  • Viral infection such as the flu

What are the risk factors for pleurisy?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing pleurisy. Not all people with risk factors will get pleurisy. Risk factors for pleurisy include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (disease of the lung)
  • Lymphoma or cancer of the lung such as mesothelioma
  • Medications such as isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid), hydralazine (Apresoline), or procainamide (Pronestyl, Procanbid)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Rheumatic disease

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 co... Read more about pleurisyintroduction


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:


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

Popular Lungs, Breathing and Respiration Slide Shows

Personal Story Network

A place where patients, healthcare providers, caregivers, and innovators share their personal stories about healing, and hope within the healthcare system and beyond.