Pleurisy

Overview of Pleurisy

Pleurisy meaning in Urdu (ذات الصدر) is an inflammation of pleura layers that separates the lungs from the chest wall. It is also called pleuritis. It causes severe chest pain that gets worse during breathing.

The Pleura membrane consists of two layers, one is outside of the lungs and the other is the inner line of the chest walls. There is a space between two layers that are filled with a small amount of liquid. These two layers slide over each other smoothly and stimulate the lungs to expand and contract when a person breathes. As the pleural layers become inflamed then these two layers rub against each other like two pieces of sandpaper. These results produce pain as the person inhales and exhales air movements. This pain may be less during holding your breath.

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Signs and Symptoms of Pleurisy

The prime sign of pleurisy is an intense, stabbing pain, or feeling constant ache in the chest. The pain may occur on one or both sides of the chest, the shoulders, and the back. Other symptoms of pleurisy include:

  • Breath shortness
  • Coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat

In some cases, a person has pleurisy due to a viral infection. In such type of cases, these symptoms may appear, that is:

Types of Pleurisy

It is comprised of three types:

  • Dry Pleurisy: It is caused by irritation at the nerve endings of the pleural layers.
  • Effusive Pleurisy: It is possible due to the accumulation of extra fluid between the spaces of pleural layers.
  • Purulent Pleurisy: This is one of the most serious types in which spaces between pleural layers are filled with dead (infected) cells known as pus.

Causes of Pleurisy

Pleurisy is caused by underlying infections such as viral infections (influenza) or bacterial infections (pneumonia). Pleurisy is not a contagious disease until and unless it is caused by viral infections.

The following are the conditions that may cause pleurisy:

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Risk Factors of Pleurisy

Some of the risk factors for pleurisy include:

  • People who already suffer from certain medical conditions i.e. immune system problems, and infections are more likely to suffer from the disease.
  • If you are above 65 years of age, then you already have an increased chance of suffering from the disease.
  • People from Mediterranean backgrounds also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease.

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Prevention

Pleurisy can be of bacterial and viral origin. Treating bacterial infection at an early stage can halt the progression of the disease. Vaccination is also an effective way to prevent bacterial infection. However, there is little you can do to prevent viral pleurisy.

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Diagnosis

Firstly a pulmonologist is to find the location and cause of the inflammation of pleurisy. Based on its physical examination, a doctor takes the medical history and requests to do these tests:

  • Chest X-rays: This chest X-ray helps to diagnose the inflammation of the lungs and check the fluid buildup in the lungs. 
  • Blood tests: The blood tests are conducted to determine if a person has an infection and the cause of the infection. It may also reveal an immune system disorder.
  • Thoracentesis: During this process, a needle is inserted into the area of the chest to evaluate the presence of fluid between the pleural layers. After that, the fluid will be extracted for analysis of infections. This test is performed rarely because of its increased risk and invasive nature.
  • CT scan: The CT Scan gives a detailed scan of the chest and lungs to find out any abnormalities in them.
  • Ultrasound: A strong wave passes through the chest to check the inner portion of the chest cavity. The ultrasound test allows us to see the inflammation or fluid buildup.
  • Biopsy: In the biopsy technique, a doctor inserts small incisions in the skin of the chest wall. This needle is used for small tissue samples of the pleura. The sample is examined under a microscope to diagnose whether it is an infection, cancer, or tuberculosis.
  • Thoracoscopy:  In this procedure, a doctor inserts a small incision in the chest wall along with a tiny camera into the pleural space. The camera is used to locate the irritated area and collect the tissue sample for analysis.

Treatment of Pleurisy | When to Consult a Doctor

The pleurisy is either treated by home remedies or medical treatment, depending on the severity of the infection.

  1. Treatment at Home:

Pleurisy can be treated at home to reduce the pain as much as possible through these kinds of natural products given below:

  • Pineapple juice
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Amla 
  • Milk
  • Sesame and Flax seeds
  • Dates
  • Dried Figs
  1. Medical Treatment:

The best way to treat pleurisy is to examine the cause of infections that can be bacterial, viral, or fungal.

  • If it is bacterial then antibiotics work best to treat the pleuritis infection.
  • If it is fungal then antifungal drugs are used.
  • If it is viral, then it can be recovered on its own.

Along with it, anti-inflammatory and analgesics can also be used for the treatment of pain and inflammation, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and others). A doctor may also prescribe steroid medication depending on the condition.

In case you exhibit any concerning signs and symptoms of pleurisy, consult a medical professional as soon as possible.