Pleurisy

PLEURISY lungs

Last Updated August 13th, 2018

Overview

Pleurisy is a fairly common condition in which the pleural membranes surrounding the lungs and lining the chest cavity become inflamed and swollen. This not only produces a stabbing pain in the chest, it can also interfere with normal breathing. Depending on the underlying cause responsible for this condition, treatment approaches and prognosis can vary. The outlook is generally good but in the absence of treatment, there can be severe complications.

 

What Is Pleurisy?

pleurisy infectionPleurisy or pleuritis is the inflammation of the pleural membranes.

The visceral pleura wraps around the lungs and the parietal pleura lines the inside of the chest.

A small quantity of lubricating fluid present in the space between these two membranes helps to minimize friction from expansion and contraction of the lungs during breathing.

When these membranes become inflamed, the pressure and friction from normal inflation and deflation of the lungs produce a sharp pain in the chest. Infection may or may not be present.

 

Why Does It Happen?

Normally, the two pleural membranes rub smoothly against one another with every inhalation and exhalation. This is facilitated by a lubricating fluid present in the space between the two membranes. When the pleural membranes become irritated and swollen, they rub against each other painfully as the lungs expand and contract. Under normal circumstances, the pressure in the gap between the two pleurae remains low in order to facilitate normal inhalation and exhalation. When there is a perforation in lung tissue, this pressure gradient creates a suction force that draws in fluid or even air from the lungs into the space between the pleurae.

The causes of pleurisy range from physical trauma to infection to an underlying chronic medical disorder. These are:

  • Viral or bacterial infection as in the case of tuberculosis, influenza or pneumonia.
  • Bronchitis.
  • A chronic inflammatory illness such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cancer of the lungs or breasts.
  • Tumors in the pleural membranes.
  • Pulmonary embolism or clots in the blood vessels of the lungs.
  • Sickle cell anemia.
  • Liver cirrhosis.
  • Heart failure.
  • Kidney disorders.
  • Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Exposure to substances such as asbestos and ammonia through inhalation.
  • Trauma to the chest region. For example fracture of the ribs or trauma from surgical procedures.
  • Leakage of air into the space between the pleurae from a hole in the lung.
  • Taking chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Side effects of certain medications.

 

What Are The Signs of Pleurisy?

pleurisy lung infectionThe exact nature of symptoms associated with pleurisy depends on the cause of the condition. Since the pleurae contain nerve endings, pleuritis produces a sharp or stabbing pain. Coughing or even normal inhalation tends to aggravate this pain. If the cause of pleurisy is an infection, then the typical symptoms of infection such as fever will also be observed. Symptoms of pleurisy include:

  • Sharp pain in the chest, usually on one side. This pain worsens with breathing or coughing. It can manifest either in the front or the back.
  • Tenderness in the chest area.
  • Pain can spread to the shoulder, neck or the abdomen.
  • Shallow breathing.
  • Shortness of breath, often as a result of pleural effusion or fluid buildup between the pleural membranes.
  • A dry cough.

 

What Are Two Types of Pleurisy?

Depending on whether or not pleural effusion is involved, pleurisy may be categorized as either wet or dry.

  • Dry pleurisy: The volume of the pleural fluid remains normal and symptoms such as chest pain are explained by the rubbing together of the inflamed pleural membranes with inhalation.
  • Wet pleurisy: Here, pleuritis is accompanied by an excess buildup of fluid between the pleural membranes. This has the effect of reducing the pain but this abnormal quantity of fluid puts pressure on the lungs and reduces their ability to expand fully. As a result of this, the patient feels short of breath.

 

Complications Related To Pleurisy

Pleural effusion or excess buildup of fluid between the pleurae is one of the most common complications of pleurisy. In case of an infectious disease such as pneumonia, there is the risk of developing empyema. This occurs when the fluid between the pleurae becomes infected with bacteria and thickens because of the formation of pus. This causes difficulty in breathing and the pus needs to be drained out to offer relief. Another possible critical outcome is a collapse of the lungs.

Permanent scarring resulting in the formation of adhesions is also possible. This can lead to permanent impairment of respiratory function.

 

Diagnosing Pleurisy

PLEURISY lungsA physical examination reveals some local tenderness.  Using a stethoscope, the physician listens to the sounds of breathing. A scratchy rubbing sound observed during breathing points to dry pleurisy. The patient’s medical history might indicate a disorder that could be the underlying cause for the pleuritis.

In instances of wet pleurisy, the patient will also exhibit shallow breathing. Chest X-ray helps to ascertain whether or not pleural effusion is involved. If it is, a small sample of the fluid will be aspirated out to test whether an infection is present. Blood tests help identify the cause of the infection and detect autoimmune disease if any is present.

Further imaging tests would be required in order to assess the extent of effusion. It may also be required if the physician suspects that pleurisy is a result of a disorder of other organs such as the liver or pancreas. Tests such as computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can reveal any other abnormalities such as tumors, lung abscesses or pulmonary embolism that could be responsible for pleurisy.

 

Treatment and prevention

Antibiotics are prescribed for pleurisy which is caused due to bacteria. When an infection is a cause it generally does not require any treatment as it resolves itself.  Chest pains associated with pleurisy are relieved by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. It is rather difficult to prevent pleurisy as it is infection or bacteria that were still present in your system after a recent case of tuberculosis or pneumonia for instance. Though, an early diagnosis can help in the reduction of the treatment process.

Facts

  • Pleurisy is caused by the inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest cavity.
  • It can be caused by infections such as tuberculosis, immune disorders such as systematic lupus erythematosus ( SLE), rheumatoid arthritis etc.

Facts

  • Symptoms include – chest pain, aggravated breathing, shortness in breathing, local tenderness etc.
  • A large amount of fluid build-up in the lungs lining is known as pleural effusion.

Facts

  • There is a characteristic noise generated when the two membranes rub against each other in pleurisy, which is known as “friction rub”.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If any of the symptoms are severe make sure to get an appointment with your doctor.
  • Get a chest imaging done – X-ray, CT scan etc.
  • A bronchoscopy (putting a thin tube via the airway) would be done to check the level of severity.
Don'ts
  • Smoking; as it could make the conditions of your lungs worse and make breathing difficult.
  • Avoid an early treatment for any infection as once it settles in your lungs it could lead to pleurisy.
  • Expose yourself to harsh chemicals such as ammonia.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
apple cider vinegar weight loss
Apple cider vinegar: Weight loss, shinier hair, and more! Did you know that apple cider vinegar, produced by the simple fermentation of apple juice, could hold the…
Clitoris: Why is it called the gateway to toe-curling female orgasms? The word clitoris comes from the Greek word kleitoris or “little hill.”  Many compare the female clitoris to…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with essential nutrients that…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
Find the G spot: The top sex positions that guarantee an orgasm There has been a long debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists as a separate organ.  Can…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
back pain relief
Don’t choose pain: 10 truths about your back ache (and how to get relief) Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the world. Almost 80% of the entire global…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Is this is the real life? Is this just fantasy? – Decoding the myths of lucid dreaming Lucid dreaming or dreaming with a state of awareness has often intrigued the minds of experts worldwide. Do…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
Military diet
Military Diet : Why following a highly restrictive diet is a bad idea Is seiging your calorie intake the right way to attack fats? Read more about Military diet, a highly…
Tea Tree Oil : The one stop cure for skin ailments and more… The popularity of tea tree oil, an essential oil, as the ultimate skin care pick is not unheard…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How is it linked…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Experts reveal, how long does marijuana actually stay in your system… Weed or marijuana is one of the most widely abused recreational drug. But did you know how long…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes, environmental circumstances, etc.
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
V for Vagina: How well do you know this extraordinary part of the female anatomy? Vagina - a simple part of the human anatomy that has often created a feeling of either digust…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
Vitamin C: The instant health benefits of adding the citrusy goodness to your diet Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that cannot be synthesized in your body and has to be obtained…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigious superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
DASH Diet: What to eat in a “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension”? If you or your loved one is suffering from chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), dash towards a DASH…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
What is the eustachian tube and how does it help you maintain body balance? Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the three important functions…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Benefits of exercise: Top reasons why you should be sweating it out more in the gym Are you leading a sedentary life and still not motivated enough to get up from your couch and…
TRX: Why is this total resistance workout the best choice for your body? TRX or total resistance exercise is a form of exercise where suspension belts are used to produce that…