Pleurisy An Overview

Chest pains are terrible. For one, your first assumption is always that there is a problem with your heart. Two, even if the problem is not with your heart, it will probably impact our heart in one way or the other. With all this anxiety, if you are unable to even breathe peacefully, that takes us to a different level of panicking.

One such health condition is pleurisy.

What is pleurisy

Let’s know more about it.

What is pleurisy?

The outer lining of the lungs and the inner lining of the chest is made up of a certain kind of tissues, called, pleura. The two layers of the tissue are separated by a fluid which allows them to glide over the other while breathing. If the pleura becomes inflamed, the two linings rub against each other causing pain. This condition is called pleurisy.

What are the symptoms of pleurisy?

The symptoms of pleurisy are easy to spot. Stabbing pain is the signature characterising factor in pleurisy. The pain and the other symptoms are indicated as:

  • Chest pain
  • Back pain
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Severe increase in pain intensity while breathing in, coughing or sneezing
  • Shortness of breath (since you are trying to compromise your breathing because of the pain)
  • Rapid heart beating

Additional symptoms like headache, fever, Joint Pains, muscle cramps can also accompany with the major symptoms of pleurisy.

Pleurisy Causes

What are the causes of pleurisy?

Various factors can cause pleurisy.

  • Infections, either viral (including HIV) or bacterial or fungal
  • Exposure to airborne toxins
  • Cancer near the pleural linings
  • Tumour in the pleural lining or in the lungs which push the pleural region
  • Heart failure
  • Blood clot in lungs
  • Traumatic incidents that injure the rib cage or other areas near the lungs
  • Surgery in the chest area.
  • Drugs abuse or overdose
  • Problems in abdominal organs like cirrhosis of liver cells, gallbladder diseases, damage to spleen, inflammation of the pancreas etc.
  • Air between the pleural linings, also known as pneumothorax.
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sickle cell disease: a disease that destroys your red blood cells.
  • Other lung diseases.

Diagnosis of pleurisy:

Diagnosis of pleurisy is done on the basis of your medical history, physical examinations and diagnostic tests. Depending upon your medical history, various imaging techniques like x-ray, ECG, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, etc. might assist the doctor in diagnosing pleurisy. Blood tests can reveal if you got pleurisy because of any parasitic infection. If the doctor things that it might be the presence of gas which is causing you the pain, he might confirm it with a thoracentesis or a arterial blood gas. And, as usual, biopsy is done to detect the presence of any cancerous cells.

Pleurisy Diagnosis

What is the treatment for pleurisy?

Not all pleurisy requires immediate medical attentions. If your pain is not very intense, you might even wait it out to see if it fades away. In fact, minor pleuritis can sometimes be treated with traditional home remedies and painkillers as well. However, when you take it to the hospital and the doctor diagnoses pleurisy, he will also investigate the root cause of it. Based on the triggering factor, the following are your options of treatment for pleurisy:

  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can be the primary solution.
  • Antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral medicines can help you cure or manage the infection caused by the respective parasites.
  • If there is a clot, antico agulatory medicine or a blood thinning medicine might help. But you should be very careful not to cut yourself while taking these medicines. Otherwise, you will suffer from excessive blood loss.
  • Removing the pleural fluid by an expert. This removal might temporarily worsen the pain as the two pleural linings will directly rub against each other. But gradually it will get better when the linings have enough space to expand while breathing in.

These treatments are only meant for temporarily managing the discomfort caused by pleurisy. If the underlying cause is something serious like a tumour or cancer etc. separate treatment should begin for the conditions at the earliest.

Pleurisy is a disease which you cannot really prevent. Still, you can take caution to reduce the risks of getting pleurisy. Regular cleaning of your phlegm, early treatment for other medical conditions (which might lead to pleurisy), leading a healthy lifestyle to avoid lifestyle-related heart diseases etc. might help you stay away from pleurisy. Take caution, stay healthy – not being able to breathe comfortably is not a pleasant experience at all!


Sai Sanjeevini Multi Speciality Hospitals, a unit of Singapanga Healthcare Pvt. Ltd has been providing health services to the people in need for the last 14 years. This health care organisation combines practical, proven research, cutting edge procedures and state-of-the-art treatment to produce excellent medical and lifestyle outcome for our patients. Our hospital and medical staff provide innovative medical care in a friendly, compassionate, community environment conducive to patient recuperation in a family atmosphere.

About The Doctor

Dr. M.Ravindranath is a reputed Pulmonologist in Hyderabad and has an experience of 12 years in this field. Dr. M.Ravindranath practices at Hyderabad Chest Clinic in Dilsukh Nagar, Hyderabad and Sai Sanjeevini Hospitals in Kothapet, Hyderabad. His knowledge of pulmonology has made him one of the best in the city and most patients visit him and go home, happy. So Book your Appointment now.