Overview of Pleurisy
Pleurisy is when the layer of tissue that lines the lungs becomes inflamed. The lung’s pain fibers are located in the pleura. This causes severe chest pain that is intensified when breathing. There are many other health reasons that may cause pleurisy, and treatment will begin by treating the other health conditions. There are not many risks that are associated with pleurisy alone, but there are many risks and complications that are associated with the other health risks that may come along with this.
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What is the Pleura?
There are two layers of pleura: one covers the lungs and the other covers the chest. There is always a small amount of fluid in this area that acts as lubrication. If there is an excess of fluid in this area, then that is when health problems will arise.
There are many symptoms that are a part of pleurisy, which include: shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, fever, shoulder or back pain. In some cases of pleurisy, there will be fluid that collects around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion.
You will want to schedule a time to see your pulmonologist immediately if you are experiencing unexplained chest pain. When you are experiencing this, then there is likely something else medical going on that you will need to know about. When you schedule an appointment as soon as possible, your physician will likely be able to see what that is and be able to treat it promptly. If found early and treatment can begin soon after a proper diagnosis, then there is a higher chance of having a successful recovery.
There are many different reasons that pleurisy may be evident. Many times, this is caused by another sickness, such as a viral infection, a bacterial infection, a fungal infection, an autoimmune disorder, or lung cancer. There are also certain medications or inherited diseases that may also be the cause. Lastly, if you have a rib fracture, then you may also experience pleurisy. If you are experiencing any symptoms, you will want to call your physician immediately so they can find the cause of your symptoms as soon as possible.
To begin the diagnosis, your physician will start by doing a physical exam and will ask about your health history. Once this is complete, to confirm the diagnosis, your physician may recommend a few tests. A blood test will be able to see if you have an infection or if you have an autoimmune disorder. A chest x-ray will show any fluids in your lungs. A computerized tomography (CT) scan will take more-detailed images of the lungs and can detect blood clots. An ultrasound may be used to detect a pleural effusion. If your physician believes that this is stemming from a heart problem, the physician may recommend an electrocardiogram.
In more severe cases, your physician may recommend testing the fluid in the lungs or removing the fluid from the lungs. In a thoracentesis, your physician will insert a needle in your chest wall and remove fluid for analysis. A thoracoscopy is a procedure that happens if tuberculosis or cancer is assumed. This will allow for the physician to see directly into your chest. These tests along with a physical examination can help your physician to figure out exactly what is wrong with you. Not all treatments are the same and with the physician’s help, you both will be able to see what the best route for treatment is.
The first step of treatment is to treat the underlying condition that is causing these symptoms. Without making these symptoms feel better, your pleurisy will not get better either. For example, if it is caused by an underlying sickness, then your physician will be able to recommend medications to take to make you feel better which will reduce the pleurisy symptoms as well. Treatment will usually be successful if you have diagnosed the reason early enough and are beginning treatments are soon as possible.
You will want to be sure to take your medication properly; on time and the proper amounts. You should also get plenty of rest while you are trying to recover. Find the position of sleep that makes you feel the most comfortable and sleep. Even if you believe you are starting to feel better, be sure to continue to get enough rest and do not overdo it. Once you begin to feel better, then it is important to get back in the routine of exercising again.
There are risks with pleurisy, and many can be treated through treatment of the other symptoms. You may notice that you are not taking as good of breaths when you are experiencing this pain. This may make you avoid exercising or doing much movement other than lying in a comfortable position. Most risks are to do with severe pain and discomfort.
Pleurisy is usually not life-threatening, but it can be if there are other severe side effects that come along with this condition. For example, if you have a pleural effusion as a result of pleurisy, then you may have to go through surgery or hospital time. This may take up to four weeks of recovery time.
Since pleurisy is caused by other sicknesses, then it is best to remain as healthy as possible. There is really no true prevention for pleurisy, but you will be able to prevent other sicknesses in which pleurisy chances will become less. You will want to get properly vaccinated, avoid going out in public if there are certain sicknesses going around, and continually wash your hands. If you are a smoker, then you will also need to quit smoking immediately, as most of the lung irritations begin with this. Also, if you work in a place where there are harmful or irritating particles and/or chemicals in the air, then take proper precautions at work. For example, if your manager recommends wearing a mask when working, then you should always wear a mask.