What is this pulmonary disease called pleurisy? This article will answer this question and more. We will cover everything from symptoms to diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain that does not go away with rest or medication, read on to learn what pleurisy might be and how it can be treated.
What is Pleurisy?
Pleurisy is a pulmonary disease that can affect the lungs and chest. It is an inflammation of the lining around the lungs, which causes pain in these areas. The symptoms are usually similar to other respiratory issues like pneumonia or bronchitis, but it’s important to know that pleurisy has different treatments than these conditions. There are two types of pleurisy, acute and chronic. Acute is usually due to a bacterial or viral infection, while chronic can be caused by lupus, tuberculosis, pneumonia, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. If you suspect that you have pleurisy, you need to see your doctor so they can diagnose your condition and give you the appropriate treatment.
What is the Pleura?
The pleura is a thin membrane lining the inside of your lung cavity and chest wall. The outer layer of this membrane covers the lungs, while the inner layer lines the rib cage. The function is to create a thin layer of fluid around the lungs so they can move back and forth as we breathe in air. Between these two layers are potential spaces for air to move into and out from between them when you breathe. When there’s too much pressure on either side, it causes pain in your chest and around your shoulder blades as well as difficulty breathing because some fluid can leak through tiny holes in that membrane called “pleural effusion” (i.e., moistening).
Symptoms of Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura that protects your lungs. In most cases, this condition causes chest pain and shortness of breath, affecting everyday activities like walking or even lying down in bed. You may also experience sharp stabbing pains on top, below, or to either side of your ribcage when coughing or breathing deeply.
People with pleurisy may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain near your breastbone worsens when you cough, sneeze, laugh hard or exercise heavily. These are called pleuritic pains. The pain can be so severe that it’s difficult to do any regular activity like walking upstairs or doing household chores.
- Swelling of the chest wall or shortness of breath can come from fluid in or around your lungs called a pleural effusion.
- Abnormal fast breathing called tachypnea and heart rhythms that may be due to underlying lung diseases.
- Pleurisy is also sometimes associated with fever and chills.
If you experience these symptoms, then you should consult a physician immediately – don’t wait!
Causes of Pleurisy
It’s caused by inflammation of the lining around your lungs and chest wall. This is called pleural membrane or pleura, which covers both surfaces but especially lines the surface against lung tissue inside your chest. Many things can cause this inflammatory condition. However, in most cases, it’s viral respiratory infections, bacterial, fungal, or autoimmune-related.
Pleuritis is also seen in many people with no obvious underlying medical problems at all. It’s more likely to happen if you have something called costochondritis—pain due to inflammation or irritation of cartilage around your rib cage where it joins your breastbone.
Pleurisy is very difficult to diagnose because many other conditions can cause similar symptoms, such as lung disease that slowly progresses over the years, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or an injury to the chest wall. Your doctor will order tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, like pneumonia and lung cancer. The diagnosis is usually based on a chest X-ray but may also include a CT scan (computed tomography), biopsy (tissue sample), and monitoring the heart for an abnormal rhythm with an electrocardiogram. Treatment will depend on what has led to it, such as antibiotics if bacterial infection, surgery in case of injury, etcetera.
The first step in treating pleurisy is to make sure the patient does not have pneumonia and that there are no other infections involved. The next step will be figuring out whether or not it requires surgical drainage based on a chest x-ray, which may help determine if they need antibiotics for infection. Doctors use these factors, along with symptoms such as fever and weight loss, to diagnose what type of pleurisy they might have and how best to treat them; however, this process can take up to six weeks because a routine lab test cannot tell you what kind of pleurisy you’re dealing with. If you ever suspect that you have pleurisy, then consult your physician immediately!
Treatments for Pleurisy
Most cases of pleurisy are treated with pain relievers and bed rest. However, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help fight an infection that is causing the inflammation in your lungs’ lining if necessary. In severe cases, you may need surgery to drain excess fluid from around your lung or remove any scar tissue blocking it. These treatments can improve breathing problems caused by pleurisy within days or weeks, depending on how advanced the problem is when treatment begins.
The following methods can be used for pleurisy:
- Infection control measures – Patients who are at risk for developing pneumonia should be on a ventilator or have appropriate respiratory therapy. These patients need to be monitored closely and treated with antibiotics if they develop signs of infection such as fever, purulent sputum production, worsening mental status, shortness of breath (dyspnea), chest pain in the lower left side abdomen (abdominal wall tenderness).
- Chest physiotherapy -Chest physiotherapy is an essential part of treatment for pleural effusion. It prevents accumulation and reaccumulation by clearing excess fluid from around the lung tissue. This improves oxygenation during breathing.
- Inflation of the lung with a device that provides positive pressure ventilation.
- Elevation and percussion (slapping) of the chest wall on both sides while maintaining an open airway to avoid asphyxiation. This can be done by using one hand only or placing your palms over the patient’s sternum.
- Chest tube insertion – If there is an accumulation of blood and fluid around the lung, this can be removed by inserting a needle into the chest to withdraw it.
Preventive Measures You Can Do to Reduce the Risk of Pleurisy
The best ways to prevent pleurisy are through identifying and treating the underlying conditions, such as an infection. Get enough rest and stay hydrated. Avoid tobacco smoke, dust, pollens, and other irritants that can aggravate the lungs. If you have a fever or cough with chest pain, see your doctor right away for a diagnosis.
The best way you can take care of your health is through dieting and exercising regularly; when you exercise, it reduces the inflammation in your lungs, which decreases the chance for a bout with pleurisy. Pleurisy can be deadly and should not be taken lightly. If you have any symptoms of pleurisy, please consult a doctor right away to avoid the chance of it getting worse.