Understanding Pleurisy

What Is Pleurisy? 


Pleurisy is inflammation of the pleura (lining of the lungs). Pleurisy occurs when the tissue (pleura) that lines the lungs and chest becomes inflamed. The pleura is made up of two layers of thin, smooth tissue that surround the lungs and line the inside of the chest. The pleura helps protect the lungs. Normally, the two layers glide smoothly past each other when you breathe in and out. With pleurisy, the layers become swollen and inflamed. This causes them to rub together with each breath, making it painful to breathe. Pleurisy can occur for many reasons. Some causes include lung infections (such as pneumonia), lung cancer, and injury to the chest.

Symptoms 

Usually the first sign of pleurisy is a distinctive chest pain that starts suddenly. The pain can vary from vague discomfort to an intense stabbing pain. Sometimes it is felt only while breathing deeply or coughing, or it can cause continuous pain that gets worse with deep breathing or coughing. Usually the pain is felt in the chest wall over the location of the inflammation, but it may also be felt in the upper abdominal area or in the neck and shoulder or in a combination of these areas.

Because inhaling deeply hurts, a person with pleurisy tends to breathe rapidly and shallowly. On the side where the pain is, the muscles of the chest move less than those on the other side. If fluid builds up between the layers of the pleura, the chest pain may go away. Large quantities of fluid can make expanding one or both lungs difficult

PLEURISY
Pleurisy is inflammation of the pleura
(lining of the lungs).


Causes and Risk Factors 

Irritation of the pleura can be cause by:
  • A virus 
  • Bacteria 
  • Cancer 
  • Inhaling asbestos 
  • The use of certain drugs, such as nitrofurantoin 
  • Some types of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
How Is Pleurisy Diagnosed? 

Your healthcare provider examines you and asks you about your health history. Samples of blood may be taken for testing. Imaging tests, such as a chest x-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound may be done to take detailed images of the inside of the body. Other tests may also be done. Your healthcare provider will tell you more if needed. 

How Is Pleurisy Treated? 

Treatment may depend on the cause. For instance, if you have a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be given. Your symptoms can also be treated so you are more comfortable. You may be given pain medications. You may also receive medications to reduce inflammation, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Your healthcare provider can tell you more about your treatment options. 

What Are the Long-term Concerns? 

With treatment, pleurisy is often cured. Untreated, it can lead to problems such as a condition called pleural effusion. This occurs when fluid collects in the pleural space. This is the area between the layers of the pleura. Pleural effusion can cause further health problems. This may require having procedures or taking medications for months or years. This is why the cause of your pleurisy needs to be investigated and treated as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider can tell you more, if needed.

by: Azzahra S.Kep