Pleurisy is inflammation of the ‘pleura’ which is a protective membrane surrounding the lungs. The pleura is made up of an inner layer (visceral pleura) which is wrapped tightly to the lungs and an outer layer (parietal pleura) which lines the inside of the chest wall. A thin space exists between the layers which contains a lubricating fluid to allow the two layers to move easily which in essence allows for your lungs to function properly.

In the majority of cases pleurisy is caused by a viral infection such as flu or a bacterial infection like pneumonia but might also be caused by a rib injury, pulmonary embolism, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, HIV or Aids, lung cancer, mesothelioma and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

The most common symptom involves a sharp chest pain when breathing deeply and which could present itself as pain in the shoulder, Other symptoms include shortness of breath and a dry cough with pain increasing during coughing, sneezing or general activity. Pain can sometimes be relieved by taking shallow breaths.

A GP can usually diagnose pleurisy from the symptoms and is likely to listen to your chest using a stethoscope. Further investigations to help in a diagnosis will include a blood test, chest x-ray, ultrasound scan, CT Scan and/or a biopsy.

Treatment will depend upon the actual cause and in viral infections should resolve itself without lasting lung damage once the underlying cause has been treated, bacterial infection will require antibiotics. In severe cases it might be necessary to be admitted to hospital.

In some instances an excess of fluid will develop between the pleural layers which can impact upon breathing and it might then be necessary to drain the fluid away. Excessive fluid and pleural effusions can also be an indicator of cancer such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with pleurisy or you are undergoing medical investigations and mention has been made that your condition could be work-related please call us today on FREEPHONE 0808 164 6018, complete our Enquire Now form, talk to us via Live Chat or email us at,

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