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Pleurisy – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

The pleurisy is characterized by an inflammation of the pleura, the membrane covering the lungs. This pathology results in intense pain in the chest and other clinical signs.

What is pleurisy?

The pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the membrane covering the lungs.

This inflammation of the pleura results in acute and intense pain in the chest and chest during deep breathing. The pain can also be localized at the shoulders.

Other signs may indicate pleurisy, such as shortness of breath, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), dry cough, sneezing, or shallow breathing.

The visit to the doctor is recommended to the observation of these first symptoms to alleviate the pains. In the context of a cough, nausea, sweating or bleeding from the nose, consultation is required as soon as possible.

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The diagnosis of this disease is rapid, at the sight of the first signs and symptoms.

Other complementary examinations confirm this diagnosis, such as:

  • the blood test, to identify the presence of biological factors related to an infection;
  • radiography;
  • ultrasound;
  • Biopsy, a small sample of the pleura.

Some types of pleurisy can be differentiated:

  • The empyema as a result of complications from pneumonia. It usually results in an accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity.
  • The chronic pleurisy, a consequence of pleurisy that endures over time (over three months).

Causes of pleurisy

Most cases of pleurisy, the initial cause are a viral infection (such as influenza, for example) or bacterial (in the context of pneumonia for example).

The viruses of pleurisy are: influenza virus (the virus responsible for the flu ), the Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, etc.

The most common source of pleurisy is streptococcus, staphylococcus or methicillin  resistant streptococcus aureus (found especially in hospitals).

In rare cases, pleurisy can be caused by the formation of a blood clot , blocking the flow of blood to the lungs in the case of pulmonary embolism or lung cancer.

Other causes may also be the cause of the disease, including surgery of the respiratory system, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, HIV infection (AIDS virus), or mesothelioma (type of cancer lungs).

Who is affected by pleurisy

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the respiratory system that can affect anyone.

Nevertheless, older people (aged 65 and older) are more concerned because of their increased susceptibility to infections.

The symptoms of pleurisy

The main symptoms related to pleurisy are very intense pains in the chest. These pains are accentuated by deep breathing, coughing or sneezing.

This pain can be felt exclusively in the chest or extend to other parts of the body, including the shoulders and back.

Other symptoms may also be associated with pleurisy, among these:

  • of breathing difficulties, including shortness of breath;
  • dry cough ;
  • of fever (especially in children);
  • weight loss without other underlying reasons.

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Risk factors for pleurisy

The risk factors for developing such pathology are mainly viral or bacterial infections of the pleura.

Surgery in the lungs, cancer or pulmonary embolism.

People with diminished immune systems (the elderly, people with underlying chronic conditions, people with immunodeficiency, etc.) are at higher risk of developing pleurisy.

How to treat pleurisy?

The treatment of the disease depends on the initial cause of it.

In the context of a viral infection, pleurisy is treated spontaneously and without treatment. On the other hand, if pleurisy is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotic therapy is often used to limit complications and reduce symptoms.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce symptoms and reduce pain.

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