Pleurisy is a condition in which pleura — two large, thin layers of tissue that separates the lungs from the chest wall — becomes inflamed. Also called pleuritis, pleurisy causes sharp chest pain (pleuritic pain) that worsens during breathing.
When a person is healthy, they will not notice the pleura at work. But if the pleura has a problem, they will feel it. When the pleurae are swollen and inflamed, they rub against each other in a very painful way each time the lungs expand.
When the patient inhales deeply, cough, sneeze, or laugh, they will probably feel a sharp stabbing pain in the area that’s affected.
Symptoms of Pleurisy
The chief symptom associated with pleurisy is a sharp, stabbing pain when the patient breathes. This pain might go away if they hold their breath or put pressure on the painful area.
However, the pain will often get worse when they sneeze, cough or move. Fever, chills, and loos of appetite are also possible symptoms, depending on the conditions that’s causing the pleurisy.
Additional Symptoms of Pleurisy include;
- Pain on one side of the chest
- Pain in the shoulders and back
- Shallow breathing to avoid feeling pain
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Shortness of breath
Pleurisy is caused by a variety of conditions such as;
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Congestive heart failure
- Pulmonary embolism
- Collagen vascular disease
To determine if a patient has pleuris and identify the cause, the doctor might recommend the following tests;
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
- Computerized Tomography (CT) scan
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
Treatment for pleurisy focuses primarily on the underlying cause. For example, if bacterial pneumonia is the cause, an antibiotic will be prescribed to manage the infection. If the cause is viral, pleurisy may resolve on its own.
The pain and inflammation associated with pleurisy is usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others). Occasionally, your doctor may prescribe steroid medication.
The outcome of pleurisy treatment depends on the seriousness of the underlying disease. If the condition that caused pleurisy is diagnosed and treated early, a full recovery is typical.
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