Pleurisy

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Pleurisy Guide

Alison Beaver

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Pleurisy Definition

Definition

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the double-layered membrane that surrounds each lung and the rib cage. The double-layered pleura protects and lubricates the surface of the lungs as they inflate and deflate within the rib cage. Healthy pleura have a thin, fluid-filled space between the two layers that lets them glide gently across each other. When they become inflamed, the diseased surfaces rub painfully together. This causes a characteristic sound called “friction rub.”

Rib Cage

Rib Cage
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Pleurisy cases are defined as having pleural effusion or as being dry. Pleural effusion, an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space, is more common, and is essentially a side effect of numerous diseases or trauma. Dry pleurisy refers to cases where there is no fluid build-up. Pleural effusion is less painful due to the fluid forcing some separation of the membranes. However, the fluid puts pressure on the lungs which can lead to respiratory distress and even lung collapse.

Pleurisy is a potentially serious condition that can have long-term effects. The sooner you seek medical care, the more favorable the outcome. Contact your doctor if you think you may have pleurisy.

Pleura of the Lungs

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© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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