What is Pleurisy?
Pleurisy is a condition that happens where there is inflammation of the pleura or tissue layers lining the inner chest wall and lungs. It often causes pleuritic pain or sharp chest pain that remains severe during breathing. One pleural coating of tissue covers around the outer part of the lungs and the other pleural coating surrounds the inner wall of the chest.
A small portion of liquid usually fills between the two layers in the pleural space or small space. When the tissue is infected or inflamed, it gets swollen and irritated resulting in significant pain. This condition is referred to as pleuritis or pleurisy. There are two types of Pleurisy. They are dry pleurisy and wet pleurisy.
Some of the common Pleurisy symptoms and signs include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The chest pain can get worse when you sneeze, cough, or breathe.
Besides these, other common symptoms of Pleurisy are as follows:
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Shallow breathing to eliminate pain feelings
- Pain in the back and shoulders
- Pain in one part of the chest
Pleurisy can affect along with empyema, atelectasis or pleural effusion:
Empyema: When the additional fluid gets infected, it results in the formation of pus. This condition is referred to as empyema. It is usually accompanied by a fever.
Atelectasis: When the pleural space contains a large level of fluid, it can develop pressure hurting the lung where it completely or partially collapses.
Pleural effusion: When the fluid develops between the two coatings of tissue, it is referred to as pleural effusion.
Who is at Risk?
Developing Pleurisy is more common among people who are susceptible to bacterial or viral infections. Exposure to asbestos, chest injury, or underlying lung problem or medical condition also improves the risks of Pleurisy. If you have any of these conditions and are experiencing Pleurisy symptoms, you need to consult your pulmonologist.
Pleurisy risk factors are as follows:
- Drug reaction
- Sickle cell disease
- Chronic kidney and liver disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Heart failure
- Chest injury
- Dressler syndrome or after the heart attack
- SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Underlying lung condition like emphysema or cystic fibrosis
One of the common causes of Pleurisy is bacterial infections. It can also be caused due to viruses, by a fungus or the flu. Pleurisy is also caused due to other medical conditions like:
- Sickle cell anaemia
- A chest injury
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- Blood clotting in the lung
- Kinds of cancer that affects pleura or lung
- Lung cancer
- Certain medications
- Certain inherited disease like sickle cell disease
- Rib trauma or fracture
- Pulmonary embolism
- Fungal infection
- A bacterial infection like pneumonia
If you are experiencing severe chest pain while breathing, you should call the Pleurisy doctor immediately.
How is Pleurisy diagnosed?
When you meet your doctor, he/she will ask to explain the pain you are experiencing while coughing or breathing. They will also check the lungs using the stethoscope and look out for strange noises. As part of Pleurisy diagnosis, the physician would recommend taking tests like:
- Thoracoscopy: The physician utilizes a flexible, thin tube referred to as a thoracoscope to view inside the chest cavity.
- Thoracentesis: The technician sees the pleural fluid sample under the microscope for issues such as cancer or infections.
- Imaging: The doctor would ask you to take a CT scan, ultrasound, or X-ray to eliminate other causative issues.
- EKG: The electrocardiogram would determine whether the chest pain is caused due to heart issue.
- Blood tests: It helps in showing the infection that has caused the issue. It also reveals whether the individual has autoimmune conditions such as lupus or other issues.
How is Pleurisy treated?
The Pleurisy doctor has to find out what is causing it to determine the Pleurisy cure exactly.
- If it is caused due to a virus, you will recover within a few weeks or days.
- If it is caused due to fungus, the physician would suggest an antifungal drug.
- If it is because of bacteria, antibiotics will be prescribed and it can make you feel better.
Pleurisy treatment would also include:
- Medications to eliminate large collections of mucus and pus and any blood clots
- Prescribing cough and pain medication that contains codeine
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine for Pleurisy
Individuals with large levels of pleural effusions may have to remain in the hospital. The physician would fix a drain tube to drain fluids sufficiently. You can also consult our pulmonologist at Cure.fit to get the best treatment.
How can Pleurisy be prevented?
Certain Pleurisy cases can be prevented according to the cause. If conditions like pneumonia are treated and taken care of in advance, it is possible to avoid the buildup of pleural fluid. But when the individual is suffering from kidney, lung, or heart disease, the individual has to manage the underlying condition where it would assist in the avoidance of fluid collection. Prevention of Pleurisy is not completely possible. It can be a sign of large underlying issues like lupus, pulmonary embolism, or blood clot or infection that requires immediate attention. Also, ensure to quit smoking, smoking marijuana, and utilizing electronic cigarettes to prevent Pleurisy.