My sister-in-law had a triple bypass surgery a year and a half ago. We all watched her change from this frail person to someone who was more energetic than a normal 60-year-old. We were all happy that she recovered completely within one month and was able to do everything by herself without any help.
Lately, she has started coughing all the time and was told by her cardiologist that was because of the ACE inhibitors she was taking post surgery. But over time she started having shortness of breath and couldn't take but two steps without struggling. This time she went to the doctors to get to the bottom of the problem. She was diagnosed with pleural effusion.
Pleural effusion is the abnormal increase of fluid in the space between the chest wall and the lungs. The pleural cavity is the space between the chest wall and the lungs that secretes a small amount of fluid in order to avoid friction between the lungs and the chest wall. But a number of health conditions cause this fluid build up abnormally causing complications such as shortness of breath and coughing.
There are two types of pleural effusion including transudative pleural effusion and exudative pleural effusion. Transudative pleural effusion is caused by failure of the left ventricle in the heart due to post surgical complications, pulmonary embolism, cirrhosis, or other conditions. Exudative pleural effusion is the result of leaky blood vessels due to lung diseases, infections, tuberculosis, bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, breast or lung cancer, etc. This condition may be caused by the use of certain medications and treatments for arthritis, lupus, diseases of the pancreas, liver, or kidneys, or fungal or viral infections.
Treatments and diagnosis: The common ways of diagnosing pleural effusion include chest X-rays, ultrasound or computed tomography, and removal of and lab work on the fluids from the lungs. The treatments includes chemical or surgical removal of the fluids is called pleurodesis. Sometimes, pleural effusion may indicate the presence of cancer. Patients who are diagnosed with cancers are usually treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery.