Pleurisy - Dream Health

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Saturday 20 December 2014


Pleurisy – Inflammation of the Pleura

Pleurisy also known as pleuritis is a condition in which the layer covering the lungs called the pleura, a double layered membrane that is moist, surrounding the lungs and lining the rib cage, gets inflamed. This condition could make a person experience painful breathing and could at times be associated with another ailment known as pleural effusion where the excess fluid gets into the areas between the membrane’s layers.

The double layers of the pleura protects and lubricates the surface of the lungs when they inflate and deflate in the rib cage. In normal case, a thin fluid filled gap which is the pleural space permits the two layer of the pleural membrane to pass gently against each other though when they get inflamed, every breath, sneeze or a cough, rubs painfully against the roughened surface causing the pain.

 In some case of pleurisy, the excess fluid tends to seep into the pleural space causing pleural effusion and this build-up of fluid has a lubricating effect, relieving the pain which could be associated with pleurisy and reduces friction between the membrane’s layers.

However at the same time, this excess fluid tends to put pressure on the lungs, thereby reducing its capability to move freely. The excess amount of fluid could also cause shortness of breath and in some cases of pleural effusion it could also get infected.

Symptoms – Sharp Chest Pain/Shortness of Breath/Dry Cough

Pleurisy could affect people of any age though the older people of 65 and above are at a greater risk since they are more prone to develop chest infection. In most cases it is the cause of a viral infection like flu or a bacterial infection like pneumonia. In other rare cases, this ailment could be the result of conditions like blood cloth which tends to block the flow of blood in the lungs – a pulmonary embolism and lung cancer.

The symptoms that are common in the case of pleurisy is a sharp chest pain while breathing in and out and the pain may get worse when the person coughs, sneezes or moves around. The person may find relieve only with shallow breaths.

Besides chest pain, the other symptoms include shortness of breath and a dry cough. If the person experience chest pain which does not seem to improve or gets worse after a period of three to five days, a visit to the physician is very essential.

Treatment Depends on Underlying Cause

The treatment for pleurisy may depend on the underlying cause, for instance if the ailment is caused due to viral infection, it often gets resolved without much treatment, though in the case of bacterial infection one would be treated with antibiotics.

Victims who tend to be frail or weak may also be admitted in the hospital. To relieve the chest pain associated with pleurisy, painkilling drugs are given while in the case of pleura getting filled with too much fluid, it may be necessary to drain out the fluid in order to prevent any difficulties while breathing which is done by inserting a tube either with the use of general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic. If the fluid is too much, the person may have to stay in the hospital for a few days to be treated.

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