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What are the symptoms of pleurisy?
Symptoms of pleurisy include:
- pain in the chest that is aggravated by breathing,
- shortness of breath, and/or
- a "stabbing" sensation.
The most common symptom of pleurisy is pain that is generally aggravated by inspiration (breathing in). Although the lungs themselves do not contain any pain nerves, the pleura contains abundant nerve endings. When extra fluid accumulates in the space between the layers of pleura, the pain usually is a less severe form of pleurisy. With very large amounts of fluid accumulation, the expansion of the lungs can be limited, and shortness of breath can worsen.
The chest (thoracic) cavity represents both the front and back of the upper portion of the body. If the inflammation is more toward the back, then the pain may be described as a back pain. Of importance is that with pleurisy; the the pain will worsen with deep breaths. Most other causes of back pain don't have this quality, however, for some people back pain will worsen with cough. (As can be seen in spinal disc disease.)
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
3."Pleurisy and pneumothorax" by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
4."2313 The Lung Pleurea" by OpenStax College - Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013.. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
7."Thoracentesis" by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - Thoracentesis. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons