Pleurisy Causes Treatment

Pleurisy : Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Do you feel pain while breathing? One of the reasons for the issue is pleuritis. Usually, the thin tissue lining the chest wall as well as the lungs rub together. The satiny soft tissue known as pleura generates no friction. Therefore, it causes no discomfort while breathing. But, an infection or inflammation of the tissue leads to pain. The unbearable pain can cause severe discomfort to you. The condition is commonly called pleuritis or pleurisy. The swelling of the tissue is infamous. Wondering why? It is because many famous historical figures have succumbed to death due to the condition. The world-renowned people like Benjamin Franklin and Catherine de Medici died due to the disease.

Though pleuritis is a serious condition, it is easy to overcome the issue now with the most modern antibiotic treatments. Today, it is not a disease-causing fear in the minds of people as an advanced treatment method can relieve the problems. You can consult your doctor to get the antibiotic treatment to overcome the bacterial infection. So, it is a disease with a good response to the various treatment methods. It has considerably reduced the number of deaths due to illness. Subsequently, fatality linked to the disease is extremely rare. But, you need to have the right information to take the right steps.

Working Of Pleura

Working Of Pleura

Before getting into the details of the disease, you need to know the working of pleura. It is composed of two thin linings that cover the lungs as well as the chest. The two layers are known as:

  • Visceral Pleura (the layer covering the lung)
  • Parietal Pleura (layer covering the inner wall of the chest)

About 20ml of clear liquid known as pleural fluid acts as a lubricant between the layers. Like the engine oil in your vehicles, the pleural fluid gets absorbed and replaced frequently to eliminate the friction. Generally, the pressure is negative inside the pleura (similar to the sucking). It is more negative during the breathing in of oxygen (inspiration). Naturally, breathing out causes less negative pressure (exhalation). So, if you consider the pressure between the two layers, you will find it as negative in the normal circumstances. Introduction of positive pressure like the inclusion of air in between the layers can result in the lung collapsing. The positive pressure gets introduced due to the wound or infection.

Symptoms Of Pleuritis

The inflammation or infection accompanying the pleuritis can cause several discomforts in your body. You can experience different adverse effects due to the issue. It can also result in the collection of a large amount of fluid in your pleural sac. At times the condition can clear on its own. But, in some cases, you need medical help to drain the fluid. So, it induces the following symptoms:

Chest Pain

Chest Pain

The main discomfort you may feel is chest pain. You can experience a stabbing pain, sharp in nature with the issue. Some people may only feel a burning sensation or a dull ache. But, it can worsen with deep breathing or changing the posture. So, you need to take shallow breaths to reduce the hurt. You can also lie down on the hurting side to decrease the pain intensity. Putting pressure on the area of pain reduces the pain. But, the pain can make you uncomfortable as you may fear it as heart-related issues. Therefore, getting medical help is necessary to relieve the issue.


Depending on the condition causing the pleuritis, you can experience coughing. A dry cough or a cough with blood or sputum can increase the pain.

Shortness Of Breath

The underlying cause of pleurisy can lead to shortness of breath. Some of the issues that lead to shortness of breath are pneumonia, a blood clot in the lungs or the chest pain due to breathing.


Your body temperature may increase leading to fever or shills. Depending on the cause of pleurisy, your fever may vary.

Other Symptoms

Apart from the above-mentioned symptoms, pleuritis can cause other issues like:

Complications Due To Pleuritis

Pleuritis Ignoring the issue is a grave error on your part. The right medical assistance at the precise time is necessary to overcome the problem. Overlooking the symptoms can lead to other complications like:


Not getting treatment for pleuritis can lead to developing scar tissue. The scar tissue known as adhesions can result in severe pain. Chronic pain causes severe discomfort and trouble to breathe properly.

Pleural Effusion

Pleural Effusion

Pleuritis is often accompanied by fluid buildup. It puts pressure on your lungs leading to ineffective functioning of the organ. Sometimes, fluid accumulation can stop the working of the lungs completely. As the fluid builds, it eases the chest pain. But, as it progresses the fluid can cause severe distress. The fluid accumulation is known as pleural effusion.


Pleural effusion can worsen leading to infection. It causes chills, fever, and dry cough without sputum. The fluid accumulation also causes shortness of breath. Empyema is the infection in the pleural effusion that worsens the symptoms. The issue requires medical attention as it can lead to more serious issues.

Causes Of Pleuritis

Several problems contribute to getting the disease. So, read ahead to get the comprehensive details about the reasons that lead to pleuritic.


The most common cause of the condition is an infection. Viral, fungi, parasites, or bacterial infections can lead to pleuritis (pleurisy). The common bacteria like the ones causing diseases like tuberculosis triggers the problem in people.

Inhaling Toxic Substances

Your lung is a vital organ. Inhaling toxic substances or chemicals not only affects your lungs but can lead to pleuritic. Exposing yourself to chemicals cleaning agents like ammonia for a long time also leads to the problem.

Vascular Diseases

Some of the diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis triggers pleuritis in your body. It results in severe pain and discomfort. Collagen vascular diseases are one of the factors triggering the issue.


Another issue leading to the disease is the presence of malignant tumor in the lung and breast. The breast cancer and lung cancer can spread to the pleura region resulting in the issue.


The presence of a non-malignant tumor in the pleura can result in pleuritis. The sarcoma or mesothelioma can lead to the issue. The lung tumor located at the center can obstruct the lymph channels making the condition worse.

Congestion Of Heart

The heart problem like congestion can lead to heart failure. Heart failure can trigger issues like pleuritis.
Congestion Of Heart
The lung’s blood vessels can develop blot clots. It can reduce the oxygen as well as blood to the lungs. The portion of the lung that gets deprived of the blood and oxygen can result in the death of the portion. The medical term of the issue is lung infarction. Subsequently, lung infarction can lead to pleuritis.


Severe trauma to the chest can result in the pleuritis. The most common causes of the issue are the rib fractures. If you have chest tubes to treat other medical conditions, then it can cause irritation.


When you take certain drugs, it can induce lupus-like signs or symptoms. The medications like Procan, hydralazine or phenytoin can cause certain negative issues including pleuritis.

Abdominal Problems

The problems in the abdominal region like damage to the spleen, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, or gallbladder disease can result in pleuritis.


The air entering the pleural space is known as pneumothorax. It can occur spontaneously or due to trauma. The result is the discomfort or pain in the chest while breathing.

Diagnosing Pleuritis

When you experience chest pain, you need to contact your doctor immediately. The doctor takes adequate steps to diagnose the issue. The diagnostic tests prescribed aims to find the location of swelling, inflammation or fluid buildup. The first basic test is a routine physical examination. During the physical exam, the doctor also checks the medical history. The following tests can detect the issue with precision:

Chest X-Rays

It shows the doctor the still image of the lungs. Therefore, it makes it easy to detect the presence of inflammation in the chest cavity. Your doctor can also order for the decubitus x-ray. It is the x-ray image taken while lying on the side. When you lie on your side, it allows the free fluid to build up and form a layer. So, the x-ray image can clearly show the fluid buildup in your chest cavity.

Blood Tests

The blood tests are basic to determine the presence of infection in your body. So, the doctor can send your blood sample to the lab. The tests can determine the presence of infection, the cause of infection, and the problems with your immune system. Based on the blood reports, your doctor can take adequate steps.



It is the test used to detect the fluid accumulated in the chest cavity. The doctor inserts the needle in the chest region. The imaging results can specify the exact area of fluid accumulation. So, the doctor removes the fluid sample from the region and tests for the presence of infection. The invasive nature of the procedure makes it risky. Therefore, the test is rarely preferred for the typical cases of pleuritis.

CT Scan

The CT Scan can help find the abnormalities of the chest with the series of x-rays that offer a clear picture. Even the cross-sectional image of the chest is visible on the CT scan. It can give a detailed view including the irritated tissue for closer inspection.


Ultrasound is the best diagnostic tool that uses the sound waves of high-frequency to create a clear inner image of the chest cavity. So, the image assists the doctor to determine the fluid buildup or inflammation with ease.


The pleural biopsy is the best route to determine the actual cause of the pleuritis. The doctor takes a sample of the irritated pleura membrane using the needle. It is sent for testing to the laboratory. So, the root cause of the problem like cancer, infection or tuberculosis is determined after the test.



It is the procedure that can find the irritated area in your chest and take the tissue sample. The procedure is performed by the doctor as it requires staying in the hospital. The doctor makes an incision on your chest and sends a tube with a camera attached at the end to pleural space. The sample collected from the test gets tested to know the issues in the sample.

Pleuritis Treatment Options

Once the doctor identifies the source of the issue like the inflammation or infection can establish a treatment plan. It helps devise the right option to eradicate the issue completely. The identification of the source of the infection or inflammation is necessary to determine the correct treatment plan. Your doctor suggests rest as the primary option to overcome the pain. Getting adequate rest to assist your body with the healing process is an important part of getting well. So, you can lie on the side that hurts. It provides enough pressure to relieve the pain. The simple step can alleviate the discomfort. For serious issues, your doctor may suggest the following:


The pleuritis causing infection needs antibiotic treatment. It can combat the ill-effects of the bacteria causing the problem.

Pain Management

The common symptom of pleuritis is the severe pain that can hold you back from functioning properly. Therefore, your doctor may suggest painkillers to relieve the severe pain. Most over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can serve the purpose.

Overcoming Coughing

Coughing can worsen the pain. Sometimes, the blood covered sputum can make you feel uncomfortable. To relieve the coughing, your doctor suggests a prescription cough and pain medication. The medicine containing codeine can provide you immense relief.

Break Up Blood Clot

If the blood clots lead to the pleuritis, then your doctor can provide medications. The medicine aims to break the large collection of pus/mucus or the blood clots.

Shortness Of Breath

Pleuritis leading to shortness of breath can worsen your discomfort levels. So, the doctor offers bronchodilators. You can use it like the ones applicable for asthma treatment. Therefore, the metered dose inhaler device provides ease of breathing.

Draining Fluid

The pleural effusion is a dangerous problem leading to infections and other complications. So, it is essential to drain a large amount of fluid from the lungs to prevent it. It is the in-patient procedure involving drain tube to completely remove the fluids. Therefore, your doctor may advise you to stay in the hospital.

Lifestyle Changes

You can make some subtle changes in your lifestyle to overcome the issue. It will relieve the symptoms and help you cope with the problem. So, you can follow the pointers to ensure good health:

  • A healthy diet and good physical activity can create wonders. The good diet with all the necessary nutrients ensures you have a great immune system to combat any illness.
  • Following your doctor’s orders and taking medication is necessary to relieve the pain. You need to combat the inflammation at the earliest to prevent it from creating complications. So, stick to the medication provided (like ibuprofen) for a pain-free life.
  • When you suffer from pleuritis, it is important to take rest. Find positions that will reduce discomfort. Stay in the position to relieve the symptoms and feel better. Never overdo it as it can result in complicating the problems.


You must never take the discomfort in your body lightly. The body signals you the start of an issue with the signs and symptoms. Therefore, you must seek medical assistance at the right time to overcome the health problem. The same rule applies to pleuritis. Pleuritis or pleurisy is an issue that can have long-term health implications. So, taking help and adhering to it religiously can offer positive results. With the help of your doctor, you can identify the actual issue causing the problem. It helps you recover from it faster.

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