Pleurisy - Overview
How is pleurisy diagnosed?
health problems can lead to pleurisy, so your doctor will look for what is causing
your inflammation. He or she will use a
physical exam and a
chest X-ray to look for signs of conditions that may
cause pleuritic chest pain, such as:
If your doctor thinks your pleurisy may be caused by an
autoimmune disease such as
rheumatoid arthritis, he or she may do blood tests.
If you have pleural effusion, your doctor may use a needle to
remove some of the fluid from the pleura. This procedure is called
thoracentesis. The fluid is then studied, to help your doctor find
out the cause of the effusion.
See pictures of
pleural effusion and
How is pleurisy treated?
The treatment for
pleurisy depends on the cause. For example, if a bacterial infection is the
cause, you will probably need an
antibiotic. If a
pulmonary embolism is present, you may
get medicine to dissolve the clot or
to prevent future blood clots (anticoagulants).
For most cases of pain caused by pleurisy, your
doctor will suggest that you use aspirin, ibuprofen, or another
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
If you have severe pain, you may need prescription cough
or pain medicine. You may also be able to relieve pain by lying on the painful
side or pressing a pillow against it.
If you have pleural
effusion, you may need to have the fluid drained through a tube that the doctor inserts in
In some cases of pleural effusion, you may need
pleurodesis. During this procedure, a medicine is put into your chest cavity,
which triggers an inflammatory reaction over the surface of the lung and inside
the chest cavity. This causes the surface of the lung to stick to the
surface of the chest cavity, which prevents more fluid from building
up or reduces the amount of fluid.