Came across this online, an older article about Pleurisy...we have some Pleurisy Root on the shelf for occasional congestion.
What Is Pleurisy and Other Disorders of the Pleura?
Pleurisy (PLUR-is-see) is inflammation (swelling) of the pleura. The pleura is
alarge, thin sheet of tissue (membrane) that wraps around the outside of your
lungs and lines the inside of your chest cavity.
Between the layer of the pleura that wraps around your lungs and the layer that
lines your chest cavity is a very thin space. This is called the pleural space.
Normally it's filled with a small amount of fluid—about 4 teaspoons full. The
fluid helps the two layers of the pleura glide smoothly past each other as your
lungs breathe air in and out.
Pleurisy occurs when the two layers of the pleura become red and inflamed. Then
they rub against each other every time your lungs expand to breathe in air. This
can cause sharp pain with breathing. Infections like pneumonia are the most
common cause of swelling, or inflammation, of the pleura and pleurisy.
Other Disorders of the Pleura
In some cases of pleurisy, excess fluid builds up in the pleural space. This is
called a pleural effusion. The buildup of fluid usually forces the two layers of
the pleura apart so they don't rub against each other when you breathe. This can
relieve your pain. However, a large amount of extra fluid can push the
pleura against your lung until the lung, or a part of it, collapses. This can
make it hard for you to breathe. In some cases of pleural effusion, the extra
fluid gets infected and turns into an abscess. This is called an empyema
Air or gas also can build up in the pleural space. This is called a
pneumothorax (noo-mo-THOR-aks). It can result from acute lung injury or a lung
disease like emphysema. Lung procedures, like surgery, drainage of fluid with a
needle, examination of the lung from the inside with a light and a camera, or
mechanical ventilation, also can cause it.
The most common symptom is sudden pain in one side of the lung and shortness of
breath. A pneumothorax also can put pressure on the lung and cause it to
collapse. If the pneumothorax is small, it may go away on its own. If it's
large, you may need to have a tube placed through your skin and chest wall into
the pleural space to remove the air.
If the pneumothorax is small, it may go away on its own. If it's large, you may
need to have a tube placed through your skin and chest wall into the pleural
space to remove the air.
The symptoms of pneumothorax include:
-Sudden, sharp chest pain that gets worse when you breathe in deeply or cough
-Shortness of breath
-Easy fatigue (tiredness)
-A rapid heart rate
-A bluish color of the skin caused by lack of oxygen
The most common cause is injury to your chest from blunt force or chest or heart
surgery. Hemothorax also can occur in people with lung or pleural cancer.
Hemothorax can put pressure on the lung and force it to collapse. It also can
cause shock, a state in which not enough blood and oxygen reach important organs
in the body.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pleurisy and Other Disorders of the Pleura?
The main symptom of pleurisy is a sharp or stabbing pain in your chest that gets
worse when you breathe in deeply or cough or sneeze. The pain may stay in one
place or it may spread to your shoulder or back. Sometimes it becomes a fairly
constant dull ache. Depending on what is causing the pleurisy, you may have
other symptoms, such as:
-Shortness of breath
-Fever and chills
-Unexplained weight loss
-A sore throat followed by pain and swelling in your joints
How Are Pleurisy and Other Disorders of the Pleura Treated?
The goals of treatment are to:
-Remove the fluid, air, or blood from the pleural space
-Treat the underlying condition
-If large amounts of fluid, air, or blood aren't removed from the pleural space,
they may put pressure on your lung and cause it to
For relief of pleurisy symptoms, your doctor may recommend:
-Acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen, to control pain.
-Codeine-based cough syrups to control a cough.
-Lying on the painful side. This may make you more comfortable.
-Breathing deeply and coughing to clear mucus as the pain eases. Otherwise, you
may develop pneumonia.
-Getting plenty of rest.
The procedures used to drain fluid, air, or blood from the pleural space are
similar. During thoracentesis, the doctor inserts a needle or a thin, hollow,
plastic tube through the ribs in the back of your chest into your chest wall. A
syringe is attached to draw fluid out of your chest. This procedure can remove
more than 6 cups of fluid at a time. When larger amounts of fluid must be
removed, a chest tube may be inserted through your chest wall. The doctor
injects a local painkiller into the area of your chest wall outside where the
fluid is. He or she will then insert a plastic tube into your chest between two
ribs. The tube is connected to a box that suctions the fluid out.
A chest x ray is taken to check the tube's position. A chest tube also is used
to drain blood and air from the pleural space. This can take several days. The
tube is left in place, and you usually stay in the hospital during this time.
Sometimes the fluid contains pus that is very thick or blood clots. Or it may
have formed a hard skin or peel. This makes it harder to drain the fluid. To
help break up the pus or blood clots, the doctor may use the chest tube to put
certain medicines into the pleural space. These medicines are called
fibrinolytics. If the pus or blood clots still don't drain out, you may need