What Is Pleurisy?

What is Pleurisy?

Pleurisy is also known as pleuritis. It is the inflammation of the lining that protects the lungs, called the pleura. This protective covering separates the lungs from the heart, diaphragm, and chest wall as well as other anatomical structures. The membrane also helps protect the lungs from trauma and pressure.

What is pleurisy and what causes it?

Pleurisy is a painful condition that causes the pleural tissues to rub against the chest wall or other tissues of the upper chest. This inflammation is caused by several factors and conditions such as:

– An infectious condition brought about by bacteria, virus, or parasites.

– Mesothelioma or a cancer that has metastasized towards the pleural area

– Diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma

– Trauma to chest such as a lung puncture, bruised or broken ribs.

– Gastrointestinal diseases can also cause pleurisy such as pancreatitis or peritonitis.

What is pleurisy and how is it treated?

Pleurisy is a pleural inflammation that has two types. Dry pleurisy is the most common type where the fluid content between the two pleural layers permit the layers to rub against each other, causing pain and discomfort. In wet pleurisy, the fluid between the layers can increase in amount. Wet pleurisy is painful for the excess fluid can compress the lungs.

Treatment of the pleurisy is directed both on the pain and the cause. Antibiotics can be given along with pain medications to help bring relief if the infection is caused by bacteria. Viral infections are usually self-limiting and require no treatment. NSAID’s are given to help lessen the inflammation and ease the pain. Ibuprofen, Advil, or Naprosyn are usually prescribed. If these medications do not work, the cortisone or corticosteroid drugs are given to lessen the inflammation of the pleura. Rest is also necessary to help you recover from your condition. If there is excessive fluid in the thorax that is causing pain, your doctor may prescribe thoracentesis. This is aspiration of the fluid found in the chest to help lessen the compression and the pain. Other times, though, the removal of fluid may increase the pain in pleurisy, further requiring stronger pain medications. Others find splinting as a good remedy for pain relief. You can hug two pillows tightly whenever you cough. If this is not working, an elastic bandage wrapped around your chest will also help lessen the pain.

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