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Definition of Pleurisy

Pleurisy, also termed as pleuritis, is a condition in which the membranes that enclose the lungs and border the chest cavity (pleurae) become inflamed. During breathing, this could cause an acute chest ache. A continuous dull ache may occur on occasion. Based on the underlying cause, additional symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, and loss of weight. 

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A viral infection is known to be the most common cause. Pneumonia, autoimmune disorders, Bacterial infection, pancreatitis, pulmonary embolism, lung cancer, cardiac surgery, and asbestosis are among the other reasons. In certain cases, the cause is unknown. The basic mechanism includes the pleurae grinding together rather than sliding smoothly. Pericarditis, pulmonary embolism, cholecystitis, heart attack, and pneumothorax are all illnesses that might cause comparable symptoms. An electrocardiogram (ECG), chest X-ray, and blood tests are examples of diagnostic testing.

The treatment will be determined by the underlying reason. Pain can be relieved by ibuprofen and paracetamol (acetaminophen). Pericarditis, pulmonary embolism, cholecystitis, heart attack, and pneumothorax are all illnesses that might cause comparable symptoms. An electrocardiogram (ECG), chest X-ray, and blood tests are examples of diagnostic testing.

The treatment will be determined by the underlying reason. Pain can be relieved by ibuprofen and paracetamol (acetaminophen). To induce larger breaths, incentive spirometry could be used. Each year, around one million people in the United States are afflicted. Hippocrates' descriptions of the disease stretch back to at least 400 BC.

Pleurisy Symptoms

Pleurisy is defined as a sudden acute, stabbing, searing, or dull discomfort in the right or left side of the chest that occurs when breathing, particularly when inhaling and exhaling. Deep breathing, sneezing, coughing, or laughing make it worse. The discomfort may be localised or move to the shoulder or back. It could become a fairly continuous dull aching at times.

Pleuritic chest discomfort might be accompanied by various Pleurisy symptoms, varying on the cause:

  • Fever and chills

  • Dry cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid, shallow breathing

  • Fast heart rate

  • Sore throat followed by pain and swelling in the joints

Pleurisy Causes

Fluid, air, and particulates from several other areas of the body could enter the pleural space, making diagnosis more difficult. The most prevalent cause of pleurisy is viral infection (influenza, coxsackie B virus, adenovirus, CMV, HRSV, EBV, parainfluenza, COVID-19). Pleuritic chest pain could be caused by a variety of disorders, including:

  • Aortic dissections

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (or drug-induced lupus erythematosus), Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), rheumatoid arthritis, and Behçet's illness are all autoimmune diseases.

  • Cardiac problems (ischemia, pericarditis).

  • Pneumonia and TB are both caused by bacterial diseases.

  • injury to the chest (blunt or penetrating).

  • Fungal or parasitic infections.

  • Familial Mediterranean fever, a genetic illness that produces fever and abdominal or pulmonary edoema.

  • Pneumothorax

  • Heart surgery, particularly coronary-artery bypass grafting.

  • Lung cancer and lymphoma.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Pulmonary embolisms, that are blood clots which enter the lungs.

  • Other lung diseases may include asbestosis, sarcoidosis, cystic fibrosis, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, and mesothelioma.


Physical examinations, medical history, and diagnostic testing are used to make a diagnosis of pleurisy or some other pleural ailment. The objectives are to consider all possible causes of the signs and symptoms and to identify the pleurisy's origin so that the underlying condition could be addressed.

Physical Examination 

A doctor listens to the patient's respiration with a stethoscope. This approach listens to the lungs for any strange sounds. Pleurisy causes inflamed layers of the pleurae to scrape against one other while breathing, producing a rough, scratchy sound. Pleural friction rub is the medical term for this.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests may be ordered based on the results of the physical examination. Below given is the list of diagnostic tests:-

  • Chest x-ray

  • Blood test

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan

  • ECG

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Ultrasound

  • Arterial blood gas

  • Biopsy

Pleurisy Treatment

The following are some of the objectives of treatment:

  • Relief and minimization of symptoms.

  • Evacuation of the fluid, air, or blood from the pleural space.

  • Treatment of the underlying condition. 


The lung might collapse if huge volumes of fluid, air, or blood are not evacuated from the pleural space. The following are the surgical procedures being used drain air, fluid, or blood from the pleural space:

  • A needle or perhaps a thin, hollow plastic tube is introduced via the ribs in the rear of the chest into the chest wall during thoracentesis. A syringe is used to remove fluid from the chest. At a time, this technique can remove up to 6 cups (1.5 litres) of liquids.

  • A chest tube can be placed through the chest wall to drain bigger volumes of fluid. The surgeon inserts a local anaesthetic into the fluid-filled region of the chest wall. A plastic tube would then be placed between two ribs within the chest. The tube is attached to a box which removes the fluid by sucking it out. To evaluate the tube's location, a chest x-ray is obtained.

  • Blood and air are also drained from the pleural space via a chest tube. This could take a few days. This could take a few days. Throughout this time, the tube normally remains in place, and the patient is usually admitted to the hospital.

  • The fluid might include thick pus or clotting, or a hard skin or peel might have formed. This makes draining the fluid more difficult. The doctor could use the chest tube to inject specific drugs into the pleural area to help break down the pus or clots.


Pleurisy symptoms are treated with a variety of drugs, including:

  • To relieve pain and reduce inflammation, use paracetamol (acetaminophen) or anti-inflammatory medicines. Apparently indomethacin (brand name Indocin) has been researched for pleurisy treatment.

  • To handle the cough, cough syrups containing codeine are used.

Corticosteroids (for tuberculous pleurisy), methotrexate (Trexall, Rheumatrex) and tacrolimus (Prograf) may have a role in the treatment of pleurisy. More research is required.

Lifestyle Changes:

Pleurisy can be managed in a variety of ways, including:

  • It would be more comfortable to lie on the hurting side.

  • As the pain subsides, take deep breaths and cough to clear mucus. Pneumonia may develop if avoided.

  • Getting some sleep and good rest.

Pleuritis Cure by Treating the Cause:

Pleurisy treatment should ideally try to eliminate the disease's underlying cause.

  • If the pleural fluid is infectious, antibiotics and emptying the fluid are used to treat it. If you have tuberculosis or a fungal infection, you'll need to take antibiotics or antifungal medications for a long time.

  • If the fluid is produced by pleural tumours, this might soon reappear after it has been evacuated. Anti-tumor medications can sometimes prevent fluid accumulation. If they don't, the pleural gap may be sealed by the doctor. Pleurodesis is the medical term for this procedure. Pleurodesis is the process of draining all of the fluid from the chest using a chest tube. A chemical is injected into the pleural space via the chest tube. This material irritates the pleura's surface. The two membranes of the pleurae are squeezed together, leaving no room for additional fluid to accumulate.

  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment might also be utilised to shrink the tumours.

  • If the fluid buildup is caused by congestive heart failure, diuretics as well as other medications are frequently used to treat it.

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FAQs on Pleurisy

Q1. What is the Severity of Pleurisy?

Ans: Pleurisy complications can be life-threatening. Lungs that are obstructed or can't expand as much as they should are among them (atelectasis) Pus in your pleural cavity (empyema).

Q2. What is an Effective Pleurisy Home Remedy?

Ans: Below mentioned points are some of the effective pleurisy home remedies:-

  • To relieve pain and inflammation, take an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen (Motrin) or aspirin.

  • If you sleep on the side which hurts, you might feel less discomfort.

  • Exercising or doing anything that requires a lot of breathing should be avoided.

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