What is pleural effusion?
Pleural effusion is a condition where excessive fluid builds up between the lungs and chest cavity. It is also called water on the lung. The outside of the lungs and inside of the chest cavity is covered by thin membranes called pleura. When there is an infection in pleura, it starts creating too much fluid. This fluid accumulates, resulting in pleural effusion.
Majorly, there are two types of pleural effusion:
- Transudative: This type of pleural effusion is caused by liquid leaking around normal pleura. It is usually the result of congestive heart failure.
- Exudative: Typically caused by pneumonia and lung cancer, this type of pleural effusion forms by leakage of fluid containing protein, blood, and sometimes even bacteria.
Pleural Effusion Symptoms
At times, the person experiences no pleural effusion symptoms and the condition is discovered during the diagnosis of some other disease. However, there are some signs that can be due to pleural effusion:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- Chest pain, especially during deep breathing
- Persistent hiccups
- Rapid heartbeat
Once you notice any of the sss effusion signs and symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.
Who is at Risk?
Pleural effusion is mostly the result of an underlying health condition. However, there are some red flags that can indicate pleural effusion.
Common risk factors include:
- People with conditions like congestive heart failure
- Certain medication
- Radiation therapy
- People who undergo surgery for heart, lungs, and abdomen
Pleural Effusion Causes
Pleural effusion causes can be diverse, ranging from serious illnesses like cancer to kidney disease. Other causes for this condition include:
- Heart failure
- Types of cancer like lung cancer or breast cancer
- Pulmonary embolism
- Complications from heart surgery
- Inflammatory disease
- Autoimmune disease
How is pleural effusion diagnosed?
The first step towards pleural effusion diagnosis is the physical exam and medical history evaluation. Once that is done, the doctor may conduct the following tests for an accurate diagnosis:
- X-Ray: With a pleural effusion chest x-ray, the doctors can detect the presence of fluid and if it is flowing freely in the pleural space.
- CT scan: A computed tomography test shows more detailed images for the pleural effusion.
- Ultrasound: Usually, this test is done to locate the fluid so that samples can be taken out for examination
- Thoracentesis: The doctors insert a needle and a tube between the ribs to remove a biopsy from pleural space.
- Pleural fluid analysis: In this test, the doctor analyses the fluid from the pleural space.
How is pleural effusion treated?
Generally, pleural effusion treatment involves various procedures. The doctor will choose the suitable treatment plan as per the cause and condition of the effusion.
Here are some of the most common methods for treating pleural effusion:
- Pleural Drain: This is the most used treatment method where the doctor removes excess fluid from the chest cavity by inserting a needle and tube between the ribs. The patient is given a local anesthetic before the procedure.
- Pleurodesis: This treatment involves the injection of a drug after into chest cavity after the removal of excess fluid. Pleurodesis helps the two layers of the pleura to stick together, which prevents the future build-up of fluid between them.
- Surgery: In severe cases, the doctors have to perform surgery to remove the liquid. At times, the pleural lining can also be removed and the procedure is called pleurectomy.
If not treated well on time, pleural effusion may lead to serious health complications. Thus, if you or any of your loved one is suffering from this condition, seek proper treatment for a timely recovery.
We, at Care.Fit, have a dedicated and experienced panel of healthcare specialists that can help you find the best treatment options for pleural effusion. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free medical consultation, we also offer online appointment booking through our app and website. You can visit it today to find the best medical care and also get the chance to avail discounts on your first appointment.
How can pleural effusion be prevented?
Since pleural effusion is caused by underlying health conditions and often shows no signs and symptoms, it is difficult to prevent fluid build-up. One of the only few ways you can try to keep a tab on it is opting for early treatment of medical conditions that may cause pleural effusion.