Overview of Pleurisy

Pleurisy is the inflammation of pleural layers that line with lungs and chest. It is caused by the different types of infective agents.

Signs and Symptoms 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.

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 is filled with a small amount of a liquid. These two layers slide over with 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 the breath.

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Types of Pleurisy

The prime sign of pleurisy is an intense, stabbing pain, or feeling the 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 the viral infection. In such type of cases, these symptoms may appear, that is:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches

Causes of Pleurisy

It is comprised of three types:

  • Dry Pleurisy: It is caused by the 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.

Risk Factors of Pleurisy

The 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.

Following are the conditions that may cause pleurisy including:

  • Asbestosis (a lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos)
  • Autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in lungs
  • Chest surgery
  • Trauma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Allergic reactions to medications including hydralazine (treats high blood pressure), isoniazid (treats tuberculosis), and procainamide (treats abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Respiratory cancer such as lung cancer



Some of the risk factor for pleurisy include:

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


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

Treatment of Pleurisy | When to Consult a Doctor

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 request to do these tests:

  • Chest X-rays: This helps to diagnose the inflammation of lungs and check the fluid buildup in the lungs.
  • Blood tests: This is conducted to determine if a person has an infection and cause of infection. It may also reveal the immune system disorder.
  • Thoracentesis: During this process, a needle inserts 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: It 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. This allows us to see the inflammation or fluid buildup.
  • Biopsy: In this technique, a doctor inserts the 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 the small incision in the chest wall along with the tiny camera into the pleural space. The camera is used to locate the irritated area and collect the tissue sample for analysis.

Doctors to treat Pleurisy

Last updated on Tuesday 29/11/2022


Dr. Syed Noman Matloob

Interventional Radiologist, General Physician |

Lahore Consultants ClinicRs


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Dr. Faisal Amin Baig

Internal Medicine Specialist, General Physician | MBBS, FCPS

Al Razi Health Care HospitalRs 3000

The University of Lahore Teaching HospitalRs 3000


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Assist. Prof. Dr. Mujahid Israr

Diabetologist, Gastroenterologist, General Physician, Pediatric Gastroenterologist, Internal Medicine Specialist | MBBS, FCPS, MACG, FCPS

National Hospital & Medical CenterRs 2500

Omar Hospital & Cardiac CentreRs 2500

Omar Hospital and Cardiac CentreRs 2500


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