What is pleurisy?
Pleurisy is swelling and irritation of the tissues between the lungs and chest wall/rib cage. Pleurisy causes chest pain and shortness of breath in an individual.
Pleura a thin two-layer protective membrane that covers the lungs and lines the inside of the chest wall. The two layers of the pleura are normally lubricated by a thin layer of fluid between them, which helps them slide easily over each other when an individual breathes in and out. Pleurisy is often caused by an infection. The infection may be viral or bacterial. Other common causes include:
- Asbestos-related disease (from home or work exposure)
- Certain cancers (lung, lymphoma, and mesothelioma)
- A blood clot that travels to the lungs
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lupus (an autoimmune disorder)
- Reactions to certain medicines or cancer treatments
- Injury to the lungs, for example, from a fractured rib
What are the common symptoms of pleurisy?
The most common symptom of pleurisy is chest pain that may start suddenly. The pain is often described as a stabbing sensation that may be severe at times. The pain usually worsens by breathing deeply. Other symptoms of pleurisy may include:
- Rapid, shallow breathing because of pain
- Dry cough
- Extreme weakness
- Chills and fever
- Shortness of breath or respiratory distress due to pleural effusion (large amounts of fluid in the pleural space) making it difficult for the lungs to expand
How pleurisy is usually diagnosed?
The following tests are usually helpful for diagnosis of pleurisy:
- Chest X-rays: They may not show pleurisy, but they can show the fluid collecting between the pleural layers. Chest X-rays can also sometimes identify the cause of pleurisy, such as lung disease, tumor, or rib fracture.
- Chest computed tomography (CT) scan: It gives more detailed images and can help in the diagnosis of conditions such as blood clots in the lungs.
- Thoracocentesis: If there is pleural effusion (fluid build-up in the pleural space), the doctor may drain the fluid and send it to be tested to help determine the cause of the pleurisy.
- Other tests: Sputum samples or throat swabs and blood tests help diagnose infectious causes (viruses or bacteria).
How pleurisy is usually treated?
Treatment for pleurisy usually involves relieving the pain and treating the underlying cause.
- Chest pain: A physician may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen to ease pain and fever.
- Underlying cause: If your pleurisy is caused by a viral infection, it'll usually get better on its own after a few days; however, in few conditions, antiviral drugs may be needed if the symptoms are severe or patients are already in poor health. Bacterial infections may be treated with antibiotics. Patients may need to be admitted to the hospital in very severe cases where the medications are usually given through injections or intravenously.
- Pleural effusion: Sometimes, pleurisy causes a build-up of excess fluid around the lungs called pleural effusion. In this condition, patients may develop shortness of breath. The fluid may need to be drained by inserting a needle or tube through the chest wall under general or local anesthesia.
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
Is Pleurisy Contagious?
Pleurisy or pleuritis is an inflammation of the lining around the lungs. Some of the causes of pleurisy include TB, the flu, heart attack, some forms of arthritis, and lupus. The treatment for pleurisy is generally aimed at the underlying cause of pleurisy.
Lupus SlideshowWhat is Lupus? Learn about lupus symptoms like butterfly rash, joint pain and fatigue. Find causes, diagnosis, and treatments for lupus, a disease most commonly found in women.
Pleurisy (Pleuritis)Pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining around the lungs, is associated with sharp chest pain upon breathing in. Cough, chest tenderness, and shortness of breath are other symptoms associated with pleurisy. Pleurisy pain can be managed with pain medication and by external splinting of the chest wall.