Pleurisy occurs when the pleura becomes inflamed. The pleura can best be described as a double membrane that lines the chest cavity and also surrounds each of the lungs. Pleurisy is often referred to as pleuritis and will typically cause a sharp pain whenever you take a breath. Pleurisy is most likely to occur as a complication of an underlying condition. Therefore, in order to relieve pleurisy you will need to treat this underlying condition.

There are numerous symptoms of pleurisy and these include a shortness of breath, dry cough, fever and chills and the most obvious sign is when you experience chest pain whenever you inhale and exhale. You will also find that the chest pain will become far more severe whenever you cough, sneeze, move or breathe deeply. Some people have even experienced pain that extends all away for their chest to their shoulder. Immediate pain relief often comes when you hold your breath or if you apply pressure to the specific area where you are feeling pain.

A pleural effusion is when an accumulation of fluids has built up and you should find that the pain will naturally disappear once the fluids have been removed. Although, you should be aware that fluid will put an extra amount of pressure on your lungs and will actually interfere with their normal functioning. Should the fluid become infected you will notice that you have a dry cough, fever and chills. A pleural effusion that becomes infected is often referred to as an empyema. It is vitally important that you immediately contact your doctor should you feel intense or persistent chest pain and if you are suffering with a high fever or shortness of breath. This will usually indicate a problem with your lungs or pleura, which are typically caused by an underlying condition, and therefore you should seek immediate medical care.

The pleura are a double membrane, which actually separate your lungs from the chest wall. One layer will line your chest wall, while the other lies over each lung. These layers of membranes are literally like two extremely smooth pieces of satin that are able to rub against each other without causing friction. This, in turn, will allow your lungs to contract and expand whenever you breathe. Additionally, you will notice no resistance whatsoever from the lining of the chest wall. Unfortunately, whenever these two pleural membranes become inflamed they will abrasively rub against each other, which will cause the pain that you associate with pleurisy.

The underlying medical conditions that may lead to pleurisy include pneumonia, autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and acute viral infections such as influenza, tuberculosis or a pulmonary embolism. Many people who have undergone heart surgery may also be affected by pleurisy. In fact any trauma to the chest area such as rib fractures may cause pleurisy. There is actually no relationship between smoking, cancer in the lungs and pleurisy, although you should be aware that a smoker’s cough is likely to aggravate the pain.

As mentioned, if you are experiencing severe pain and breathing difficulties, you should immediately seek medical attention. Your first step should be to contact your doctor and you should also provide them with certain information. This should include the specific symptoms you have been experiencing, your medical history and information and it is also advisable to take a family member or friend along with you. Your doctor will then ask you a series of questions upon which they can base their diagnosis. They are likely to examine you and listen to your chest and often they may be able to hear a “friction rub”. Your doctor will probably also use some additional procedures in order to determine the underlying cause of your pleurisy.

Your doctor may take a blood test if they believe you have an infection, so they can work out exactly what type of infection you have. There are numerous blood tests that are able to detect an autoimmune disorder. They may also take a chest x-ray which will enable them to see an area of inflammation around your lungs. If this is the case, this is likely to indicate pneumonia. They may also order a CT scan so that they are able to produce more detailed images of your internal organs. In order to determine whether you have a pleural effusion, your doctor may well use an ultrasound. They may also suggest a thoracentesis, which is where they will remove fluid for laboratory analysis. The final test that your doctor may take is a thorascopy which will allow them to obtain a sample of pleural tissue.

The main aim in relieving pleurisy is to treat the underlying condition that is causing your symptoms. This may typically involve antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. An antibiotic is most likely to be used for a viral infection, whereas codeine is likely to be prescribed to help control a cough as well as the pain. If the problem is a build up of fluid this may involve a hospital stay where the fluid will be drained through a tube inserted in your chest, over a period of days.

Last updated on Nov 9th, 2010 and filed under Respiratory Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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