The first signs of pleurisy should be noticed on time, but it would be best if you knew the causes and avoid it whatsoever. In case you have it, treat it.

In pleurisy, there is an inflammation of the pleura membrane. This membrane covers the lungs and when it suffers alterations its main symptom is pain. In this article we tell you problems are the causes of pleurisy and its treatments.

Pleurisy or pleuritis, both terms designate the same situation: an inflammation of the thoracic membrane we know as pleura.

The pleura is a thin tissue that lines the lungs and separates it from the chest wall. Actually, the pleura has two parts; one of them is attached to the lung and the other to the very short of the thorax.

Between the two plates of the pleura there is a tiny space. This space is known as virtual because it does not exist or becomes evident, unless something occupies it. The air can occupy that space, constituting a pneumothorax. Also, what a liquid substance can do, constituting a pleural effusion.

It is not uncommon for patients to mix pleurisy with a pleural effusion. When there is an inflammation of the pleura, it can produce inflammatory fluid that is deposited in the pleural space. This indicates that different pleura disorders may respond to the same cause.


The causes of pleurisy are different. These are some of the disorders that can cause inflammation of the pleura:

Autoimmune diseases: some autoimmune pathologies are potentially to attack the pleura. This is the case with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, which is a cause of pleurisy.

Lung cancer: Oncological disease of the respiratory system can attack the pleura. Sometimes, there is an inflammation of the pleural membranes due to proximity to the primary tumor, and other times, because lung cancer metastases lodge in the pleura.

Pneumonia: when suffering from pneumonia, the sea is of bacterial or viral origin, and there is an inflammation of the pleura due to by the same infectious process.

Mycosis: there are fungi that infect humans, specifically in their internal organs, and that can take the pleura as a seating point. Fungal pleurisy is difficult to treat because antifungals need a lot of time to use to start acting and because the access of medications to the pleura is not as fast as it is with other organs.

Chest trauma: trauma to the chest and side of the chest wall, more specifically in the ribs, is often the cause of pleurisy. Inflammation happens because of solidarity and proximity to neighboring structures.

  • Chest pleuritis pain.
  • Chest pain is one of the main features of pleurisy.

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Signs of pleurisy

One of the most characteristic signs of pleurisy is chest pain. In general, it is an intense but intermittent pain, which is exacerbated by coughing or deep breaths.

Dyspnea appears next to the pain. Dyspnea is the lack of air the patient percieves, either in inhalation or exhalation. As in a vicious circle, it may happen that overexertion to breathe worsens chest pain. Another symptomatology depends on the cause that causes pleurisy.

In pneumonia there will be fever and cough.

In lung cancer you will suffer weight loss, anemia or changes in skin color.

When an autoimmune disease happens, joints are usually affected, for example.

If pleurisy comes with a pleural effusion, the characteristic pain will vary slightly. The fluid in the effusion increases pain in certain postures and body positions. Dyspnea is also more evident due to the pressure of the effusion on the lung.


The treatment of pleurisy depends largely on its cause. Record that it is not a disease with an entity in itself, but rather it is a situation that appears from another pathology.

You can ease leurisy pain with anti-inflammatories, specifically from the original cause. A  drug that doctors commonly prescribe for pain management is ibuprofen. In more severe cases, you can use morphine and its derivatives.

When the pain during a cough increases, it evaluates the use of cough suppressants. In any case, doctors do not always recommend it because it is a defense mechanism that the body uses in order to solve an atypical situation.

For infections, the treatment will be the antimicrobial that will operate against the invading agent. There are protocols for pneumonia, fungal infection and influenza conditions that determine what steps to take at each stage.

The existence of pleurisy always forces us to find the cause. Health professionals will request the complementary methods they deem appropriate to reach a diagnosis. Once the you know the cause, you may get the proper treatment that resolves the underlying situation.

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