The pleura are double-layered membranous sacs that envelop our lungs and demarcates them from the heart, ribs, chest wall and diaphragm. When this sac swells due to infection (viral or bacterial) of the lungs, injury or other medical conditions, then the condition is called pleurisy or pleuritis. The patient experiences chest pain during breathing as the inflamed and swollen pleural layers rub against each other when the chest expands during inhalation. When the sac fills with fluids the condition is called pleural effusion. In this article, we will concern ourselves with details of pleurisy.
To start, you may wish to go over the following five questions with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with pleurisy:
1. What is the cause of my pleurisy?
That depends upon your underlying medical conditions, the results in the diagnostic reports and what your doctor considers the cause after a physical examination. The presence of other medical conditions usually causes pleurisy. These conditions could be:
• Blood clot in lung
• Smoking-affected lungs
• Infectious disease caused by virus, bacteria, fungus, tuberculosis, parasites, or pneumonia
• Gastrointestinal disease
• Radiation therapy
• Reaction to drugs such as methotrexate and penicillin
• Sickle cell disease
• Chemotherapy drugs
• Cancer such as mesothelioma
• Collagen vascular disease such as lupus
• Trauma from bruised or broken ribs
• Other lung diseases like cystic fibrosis, asbestosis, etc.
• Pulmonary embolism, inflammatory bowel disease
• Familial Mediterranean fever
• Coronary artery bypass grafting
• High blood pressure
• Aortic dissection
2. Besides the chest pain and fever that I have, what other symptoms am I likely to experience in pleurisy?
Typically pleurisy patients have any or a combination of the following symptoms:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain at the time of inhalation and exhalation
• Dry cough
• Coughing and sneezing
• Loss of weight
• Swollen joints
3. Will I need to take any more diagnostic tests for my pleurisy apart from the X-ray and the blood test?