Get Treatment For Pleurisy

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Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Pleurisy Treatment?

The medical team of Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital has vast experience in lung disease and can provide personalized treatment plans for patients suffering from pleurisy. Since 1969, we have been providing quality healthcare to the community of Los Angeles. We will gladly offer you the treatment you need for pleurisy in a warm and compassionate environment, as we place great emphasis on our patients' comfort and well-being. With decades of experience in diagnosing and treating lung disease, our pulmonologists will find the most effective treatment approach for your diagnosis of pleurisy.

Also known as pleuritis, pleurisy is the swelling and inflammation of the thin tissue that lines the chest cavity and the lungs, which is medically known as the pleura, hence the name of the condition. The pleura creates a smooth surface that allows the lungs to expand and contract easily when you breathe.

However, when the pleura swells, this causes the lungs to rub painfully against the chest. In severe cases, fluid accumulates between the two layers of the pleura, a condition known as pleural effusion, which causes the sufferer to experience chest pain when breathing. In contrast, when there is no excess fluid in your chest cavity, the condition is referred to as dry pleurisy. The most frequent cause of pleurisy is a bacterial infection.

The treatment you will receive for pleurisy depends on the cause of your condition. Accordingly, you may be prescribed the following medications:

  • antibiotics: when pleurisy is the consequence of a bacterial infection, you will be given antibiotics, which will gradually reduce the swelling and inflammation of the pleura and eventually restore the normal functioning of your lungs
  • corticosteroids: if your pleurisy is caused by autoimmune diseases such as lupus, you will be prescribed corticosteroids, whose purpose is to suppress the immune system so that the inflammation of the pleura will subside
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: these medications, which include ibuprofen and aspirin, will help relieve your chest pain when you breathe

It is worthy of note that if a virus is the cause of your pleurisy, you will not be prescribed any treatment, as the condition will solve itself within several weeks. Similarly, you will not be given strong pain relievers such as codeine, as they will prevent you from coughing, which may lead to complications such as pneumonia or a collapsed lung.

Other ways to help alleviate your chest pain if you have pleurisy are holding a pillow against the part of the chest that hurts when coughing or breathing and wrapping your chest in wide, elastic bandages, which will help relieve severe pain.

There are two types of pleurisy, depending on whether there is fluid between the two layers of the pleura:

  • pleural effusion: when the fluid has accumulated between the two layers of the pleura, pleural effusion will be diagnosed
  • dry pleurisy: when there is no fluid around your lungs, you will receive a diagnosis of dry pleurisy

Symptoms of Pleurisy

The most common symptoms of pleurisy include the following:

  • chest pains (aggravated by coughing)
  • shortness of breath
  • a persistent cough
  • fever and chills
  • rapid breathing

Diagnosis of Pleurisy

The diagnostic process of pleurisy usually begins with a physical exam, during which your doctor will listen your lungs through a stethoscope. They will hear a squeaky, rubbing sound if you have this condition.

Subsequently, if they suspect pleurisy, they will order some of the following tests and exams:

  • chest X-rays: through chest X-rays, your physician will be able to see whether there is fluid around your lungs, as well as whether your pleura is swollen
  • CT scan: similarly to chest X-rays, this imaging test will provide your doctor with clear and detailed images of your chest cavity so that they can see the condition of your pleura
  • ultrasound or electrocardiogram: these tests may be ordered so that your physician can rule out heart disease that may cause your chest pain
  • blood tests: the purpose of blood tests is to detect lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, which may be the cause of your pleurisy
  • a biopsy: because pleurisy can be the precursor of lung cancer, your doctor may want to collect a small sample of the fluid that has accumulated around your lungs or a piece of tissue if there is not fluid, which a pathologist will subsequently examine for the presence of malignant cells

There are numerous causes of the irritation of the pleura, such as:

  • a viral infection
  • a bacterial infection
  • a fungal infection
  • pulmonary embolism
  • tuberculosis
  • rib fracture
  • sickle cell disease
  • autoimmune diseases such as lupus
  • lung cancer
  • mesothelioma
  • asbestos exposure
  • taking certain medications

You can prevent pleurisy by eluding sick people so that you cannot contract a viral infection that may lead to the development of this condition, getting effective treatment for autoimmune diseases, avoiding certain medications that may cause pleurisy, as well as by wearing adequate protective equipment when working with asbestos.

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