Pleurisy is swelling (inflammation) of the thin layers of
tissue (pleura) covering the lungs and the chest wall. In young, healthy
people, a viral infection of the lower respiratory system or pneumonia may
cause the inflammation and pleurisy.
Other causes of pleurisy
include air leaking into the pleural cavity from a hole in a
lung (pneumothorax), injury to the chest (such as a broken rib),
tuberculosis or other infections, or a tumor in the pleura. Pleurisy caused by
a virus usually lasts a few days to 2 weeks.
Common symptoms of
Stabbing chest pain that starts fairly
suddenly. Pain may increase when the person breathes in. A person with pleurisy
may try to avoid severe pain by not breathing in deeply. This may cause rapid,
shallow breathing. Pain may spread to a shoulder or the
Over-the-counter pain relievers, including acetaminophen
(such as Tylenol) and ibuprofen (such as Motrin and Advil), may help relieve
the pain caused by pleurisy and may reduce fever. Treatment of pleurisy depends
on the cause.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology