Pleurisy is a medical condition that involves inflammation or irritation of the layers of tissue (pleura) that line the lungs and the inner side of the chest cavity. It can cause severe, sharp chest pain (often called a ‘pleuritic pain’) that worsens during breathing or coughing. Pleurisy can be caused by several underlying conditions such as viral or bacterial infections, autoimmune diseases, rib fractures, certain medications, and lung cancer. The main symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. It is generally diagnosed with a physical exam, blood tests, or imaging tests like chest X-rays or CT scans. Treatment usually involves addressing the underlying cause and may include pain relief medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, and as a last resort, possibly surgery.


Causes of Pleurisy

Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, is inflammation of the layers of tissue (pleura) that separate your lungs from your chest wall. Pleurisy can result from a variety of causes, including:

1. Viral Infections: This is the most common cause of pleurisy. The inflammation can result from viral infections like the flu, common cold, or COVID-19.

2. Bacterial Infections: Conditions such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other bacterial lung infections can cause pleurisy.

3. Fungal or Parasitic Infections: Certain types of fungi or parasites can infect the lungs and result in pleurisy.

4. Autoimmune Diseases: Diseases like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Sjogren’s Syndrome are autoimmune conditions where the body’s immune system attacks itself. These can cause inflammation of various tissues in the body, including the pleura.

5. Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma: Both these conditions can cause inflammation of pleura leading to pleurisy.

6. Pulmonary Embolism: A blood clot in the lungs can cause pleurisy.

7. Rib Fracture: A broken rib can cause pleurisy by irritating the lining of the lung.

8. Certain medications: Some drugs, including certain anti-inflammatory medications and those used to treat heart conditions or seizures, have been associated with drug-induced pleurisy.

In many cases, the cause of pleurisy might not be found. This is called idiopathic pleurisy. It is important to seek medical advice if you have chest pain, as it can also be a sign of more serious disorders, such as heart disease.

Risk Factors of Pleurisy

Pleurisy, a condition characterized by inflammation of the pleura (the thin tissues that line the chest cavity and surround the lungs), can be triggered by several risk factors:

1. Bacterial or Viral infections: Such as pneumonia and influenza, which are the most common causes of pleurisy.

2. Lung Diseases: Conditions like tuberculosis, lung cancer, or asbestos-related diseases can lead to pleurisy.

3. Other Medical Conditions: Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and liver diseases can also cause pleurisy.

4. Rib fractures: Broken ribs can cause insult to the pleural space leading to pleurisy.

5. Pulmonary embolism: This is a blood clot in the lungs that can cause pleurisy.

6. Heart surgery: Pleurisy is often seen as a complication following a coronary artery bypass surgery.

7. Medication reaction: Certain drugs associated with the development of drug-induced lupus, a lupus-like disease such as hydralazine, isoniazid, and procainamide.

8. Exposure to certain environmental factors: Like asbestos and silica can increase the risk.

Bear in mind, having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean you will definitely get pleurisy. It just increases your risk. A person’s individual health scenario, including how well they manage these conditions if they have them, will influence whether or not they get pleurisy.

Signs and Symptoms of Pleurisy

Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, is an inflammation of the pleura, which is the double layer of tissue that covers the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity. This condition can cause severe chest pain and other symptoms, including:

1. Chest Pain: The most common symptom of pleurisy is chest pain, which might feel like a sharp, stabbing pain in your chest. It is usually worse when you breathe in, cough, or sneeze. The pain may also spread to the shoulder or back.

2. Shortness of Breath: You may have difficulty breathing deeply or might try to avoid breathing deeply to prevent the associated pain. This can lead to a fast shallow breathing.

3. Cough: Some people with pleurisy may have a dry cough.

4. Fever: In cases where pleurisy is caused by an infection, you could also experience symptoms like fever, chills, headaches, and loss of appetite.

5. Feeling Unwell: The individual may also experience a general sense of being unwell, such as fatigue, malaise, or feeling uncomfortable.

Please, refer to a healthcare professional if you or someone else is showing signs of pleurisy. It’s important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis Pleurisy

Pleurisy is a condition where the two thin layers of tissue (pleura) separating your lungs from your ribcage become inflamed. The inflammation is often caused by viral or bacterial infections, chest injuries, autoimmune diseases or lung diseases such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.

One common symptom of pleurisy is a sharp, stabbing chest pain that becomes worse when you breathe, cough or sneeze. Some people may also experience shortness of breath, cough, or fever.

The diagnosis of pleurisy is usually based on the distinctive pain symptoms, and can be confirmed by physical examination, blood tests, chest X-rays, or CT scans. The treatment for pleurisy would depend on the underlying cause, but it often involves addressing the root cause and relieving the symptoms with non-steroidal pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medication.

Treatment of Pleurisy

Pleurisy is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the pleura – the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity. It can cause sharp chest pain (pleuritic pain) that worsens during breathing.

Treatment of pleurisy focuses on the underlying cause, relief of symptoms, and prevention of complications. Here’s a general idea of the treatment process:

1. Medications: Depending on the cause of pleurisy, different medications may be prescribed.
Antibiotics: If pleurisy is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
Antifungals or antivirals: For pleurisy caused by a fungal or viral infection.
Pain relievers: Doctors usually recommend over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to relieve the pain associated with pleurisy.
Corticosteroids: In certain cases, these may be used to reduce inflammation.

2. Procedures: If there’s a large amount of fluid, air, or blood in the pleural space, doctors may need to remove it to help you breathe easier. This is done through a procedure called thoracentesis.

3. Therapy: To help you breathe better and alleviate pain, respiratory therapy may be needed, which may include deep breathing exercises or other techniques.

4. Plenty of rest and fluids: Rest helps the body recover faster from any illness, including pleurisy. Drinking fluids can prevent dehydration that could worsen the condition.

Remember, it’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have pleurisy or if you have chest pain. Never self-medicate or try to manage the condition without professional medical advice.

Medications commonly used for Pleurisy

Pleurisy is a condition that causes inflammation in the layers of tissue that surround the lungs. It can cause chest pain and breathing difficulties. Here are some common medications used to treat pleurisy:

1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen can be used to decrease inflammation, pain, and fever.

2. Corticosteroids: These are prescribed in more severe cases of pleurisy to reduce inflammation. However, they have side effects over the long term use.

3. Pain killers: As pleurisy is related to significant pain, doctors might prescribe pain relievers such as acetaminophen or stronger narcotic painkillers depending on the severity of the pain.

4. Antibiotics: If the cause of pleurisy is related to a bacterial infection, then antibiotics may be prescribed to combat the infection.

5. Antiviral or antifungal medicines: If the pleurisy is caused by a viral or fungal infection, specific antiviral or antifungal medicines may be used.

6. Antitussives: Depending on the severity of coughing, cough suppressants may also be prescribed to ease discomfort.

Remember, medications are typically only part of the treatment. Rest, hydration, and sometimes physical therapy may also be recommended. As always, one should take medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider, who will decide upon the most appropriate treatment based on an individual’s specific symptoms and overall health condition.

Prevention of Pleurisy

Pleurisy is a condition that involves the inflammation of the pleura, which are the two layers of tissue that separate your lungs from your rib cage. It’s often caused by viral or bacterial infections, autoimmune diseases, or damage to the lungs. While you can’t completely prevent pleurisy, you can certainly take steps to minimize your risk:

1. Avoiding Infections: Pleurisy is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections. Having a rich, nutrient-dense diet, practising good hygiene (like washing your hands often), getting vaccinated and avoiding people who are sick can help you avoid these infections.

2. Staying Healthy: Developing conditions such as autoimmune diseases, lung injuries or lung diseases can lead to pleurisy, so staying healthy is an important prevention measure. This includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and avoiding smoking or heavy drinking.

3. Regular Doctor Check-ups: Regular check-ups can help catch problems early and allow for timely treatment before complications arise.

4. Quit Smoking: Smoking is a leading cause of various lung diseases and it can increase your risk of developing pleurisy. Quitting smoking or avoiding secondhand smoke can significantly reduce this risk.


5. COVID-19 precautions: Some cases of severe COVID-19 have known to cause pleurisy. It is advised to follow the necessary guidelines to prevent COVID-19 like wearing masks, maintaining social distance, sanitizing hands often, etc.

Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, and fever, it is important to consult with your doctor.

FAQ’s about Pleurisy

Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, is an inflammation of the pleura, which are the tissues lining the lungs and chest wall. This causes sharp chest pain that worsens during breathing. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Pleurisy:

1. What are the symptoms of pleurisy?
Symptoms of pleurisy can include sharp or stabbing chest pain that worsens with deep breaths, coughs, or sneezes, shortness of breath due to the pain and inflammation, and sometimes fever and other symptoms if the condition is due to an infection.

2. What causes pleurisy?
Pleurisy can be caused by a number of factors, such as viral, bacterial, or fungal infections in the lungs; auto-immune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis; pulmonary embolism; certain medications; lung cancer or lymphoma; and even certain hereditary diseases.

3. How is pleurisy diagnosed?
Doctors often start by asking about your medical history and symptoms, followed by a physical examination. A chest X-ray, blood test, CT scan, or ultrasound might be used to confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes, a biopsy of the pleural tissue might be necessary.

4. What is the treatment for pleurisy?
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. If it’s due to a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. Viral infections usually resolve on their own. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the pain and inflammation. In severe cases, procedures may be needed to remove fluid or air from the pleural space.

5. Can pleurisy be prevented?
Preventing pleurisy involves addressing its underlying causes. This can include receiving vaccinations against infections that can cause pleurisy, like influenza and pneumonia, practicing good hygiene to prevent infections, and managing chronic conditions that could lead to pleurisy.

6. Is pleurisy a serious condition?
While pleurisy itself often improves with treatment, it’s not without complications. Potential complications can include pleural effusion, where excess fluid builds up between the layers of pleura, or a collapsed lung.

7. Is pleurisy contagious?
Pleurisy itself is not contagious, but if it’s caused by a bacterial or viral infection, the infection can be spread to others.

Remember, if you or someone else has chest pain or other severe symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Useful links

Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, is a condition that results from the swelling of the pleura, a two-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity.

Here are some useful links from journals that can provide additional, detailed information regarding pleurisy:


Please consult with a healthcare professional for reliable medical advice. This list of resources is for informational purposes and is not meant to replace professional medical advice.

Complications of Pleurisy

Pleurisy is a condition where the pleura – a two-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity – becomes inflamed. This can result in a number of complications if it isn’t treated, including:

1. Pleural Effusion: This occurs when excess fluid builds up in the pleural space, the area between the two layers of the pleura. This can cause difficulty breathing, as well as chest pain.

2. Lung Collapse: In severe cases where the pleural effusion becomes infected, it can develop into an abscess. This abscess can rupture, causing air to enter the pleural space and collapse the lung.

3. Septicemia or Sepsis: If the infection spreads into the blood stream, it can lead to a critical condition known as sepsis, which can cause organ failure and is potentially deadly.

4. Chronic Pleurisy: In some cases, pleurisy can become a long-term (chronic) condition that keeps coming back, particularly in people who also have long-term lung disease.

5. Empyema: This happens when pus accumulates in the pleural space, usually as a result of a bacterial infection. It can cause fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain, and typically requires a procedure to drain the pus.

6. Respiratory failure: In rare and severe cases, pleurisy can lead to respiratory failure if not treated adequately and promptly.

7. Cardiac complications: Very rarely, the inflammation could spread to the tissues around the heart leading to conditions such as pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart) or even potentially heart failure.

If you or someone else has been diagnosed with pleurisy, it’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan closely to help prevent these complications.

Home remedies of Pleurisy

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, which are the two thin membranes that line and protect the lungs. This condition can cause sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, and dry coughing. Pleurisy is serious and should always be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. Home remedies may help alleviate some symptoms or complement your doctor’s prescribed treatments, but they’re not substitutes for professional medical care. Here are some home remedies that might help:

1. Rest: Make sure to get plenty of rest. This will help your body fight off the inflammation.

2. Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated and to thin mucus in the lungs. This may make it easier for you to breathe.

3. Heat: Apply a warm compress to your chest. This can help reduce pain and inflammation.

4. Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with the chest pain. Always follow the directions on the package for proper use.

5. Healthy Diet: Eating a well-balanced diet can boost your immune system and help your body fight off infections.

6. Breathing Exercises: Deep-breathing exercises can help improve lung capacity and reduce symptoms. However, you should only try this if it is comfortable and doesn’t cause additional pain.

7. Posture: Sitting or standing upright can help make breathing easier. Lying down can sometimes make the pain worse.

8. Stop Smoking: If you smoke, it is important that you stop as it can worsen your pleurisy and also make future lung diseases more likely.

Remember, these are only supportive measures. Always follow your doctor’s advice and treatment plan to manage and remedy pleurisy.

Categorized in:

Lung Health,

Last Update: January 10, 2024