Pleurisy - Causes

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What causes pleurisy?

Pleurisy can be caused by any of the following conditions:

  • Infections: bacterial (including those that cause tuberculosis), fungi, parasites, or viruses
  • Inhaled chemicals or toxic substances: exposure to some cleaning agents like ammonia
  • Collagen vascular diseases: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancers: for example, the spread of lung cancer or breast cancer to the pleura
  • Tumors of the pleura: mesothelioma or sarcoma
  • Congestion: heart failure
  • Pulmonary embolism: blood clot inside the blood vessels to the lungs. These clots sometimes severely reduce blood and oxygen to portions of the lung and can result in death to that portion of lung tissue (termed lung infarction). This, too, can cause pleurisy.
  • Obstruction of lymph channels: as a result of centrally located lung tumors
  • Trauma: rib fractures or irritation from chest tubes used to drain air or fluid from the pleural cavity in the chest
  • Certain drugs: drugs that can cause lupus-like syndromes (such as hydralazine [Apresoline], Procan [Pronestyl, Procan-SR, Procanbid - these brands no longer are available in the U.S.], phenytoin [Dilantin], and others)
  • Abdominal processes: such as pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, gallbladder disease, and damage to the spleen.
  • Pneumothorax: air in the pleural space, occurring spontaneously or from trauma.
Return to Pleurisy (Pleuritis)

See what others are saying

Comment from: ann, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

My pleurisy is caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have persistent pleural effusion. On the other lung I have nodules.

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Comment from: murphy, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 28

I went to a well-known home improvement store and bought several bags of dirt, came home and cut one of the bags open. As I pulled the edges open this big puff of gray dust plumped out and I started choking and fanning it away. Not thinking much about it I opened two more and had the same situation took them back to the store and was treated as if I was stupid and overly paranoid. Now looking back I realize that from that point I started feeling bad, tired, everything tasted funny, and as the weeks (2-3) went on I started feeling fatigued and wanted to sleep more through the daytime. I then started getting what I thought a muscle spasm in my right back shoulder area. Then I kept getting spasms and not able to breathe well. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and called a good friend very early one morning and asked them to take me to the hospital. I was in so much pain I was crying. They said I had pneumonia in my lower and middle right lung and that I could stay and take antibiotics there or go home and take them for 5 days. I opted to go home. Well, about 12 hours later I was screaming in pain and gasping for air. The emergency medical technician (EMT) took me to another hospital, I was there for a week.

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