What you never knew about Pleurisy

For some time now, you have been feeling a sharp pain in your chest. You really don’t know what it is; you have just been speculating. You feel it is not serious enough for you to go see a doctor but then whenever you feel the pain, your instinct tells you otherwise. Have you heard of Pleurisy? Probably that is what it is. Who knows? Let’s find out.


Pleurisy is a state in which the pleura is inflamed or swollen. The pleura is a moist membrane that lines the rib cage and surrounds the lungs. Anyone suffering from this condition will usually experience serious pain when breathing. The pleura is responsible for lubricating and safeguarding the lungs as they inflate and deflate inside the ribs. The pleura is double-layered with a space in between called the pleural space. It is this space that is responsible for the gentle sliding of the membrane’s layers past each other. When pleurisy sets in, that is, when the pleural layers are swollen, every breath, cough or sneeze causes the layers to rub painfully together. That is why the sufferer feels pain.

Causes of Pleurisy

  • Drug reactions
  • Injuries to the chest
  • Lung infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Viral infections, which is the most common cause


Signs and symptoms

These include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest especially during breathing, sneezing and coughing

Occasionally, the sufferer might experience a cough or a fever and even pain in the shoulder or back.


Treating pleurisy is dependent on the causative factor. If the underlying cause is a bacterial infection, an antibiotic will deal with the infection. If, however, the infection is viral, pleurisy will resolve on its own as viral infections are self-limiting. Early detection is key to ensure a full recovery.

In order to reduce the symptoms associated with pleurisy,

  • Drugs such as ibuprofen will ease the pain and inflammation
  • Also, getting enough rest is key.

In all, the best advice is to see your doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms highlighted above.

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