What Are the Causes of Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders?
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Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Published on Jan 23, 2023 and last reviewed on Mar 20, 2023   -  4 min read


Pleurisy is the inflammation of the lining present in the lungs and chest. Read the article below to learn about the symptoms and treatment of pleurisy.


Pleura is a thin layer of tissue present around the lungs and lines the inner chest surface. Normally, these layers contain space filled with liquid. It aids in providing a cushioning effect during inhalation and exhalation. The disorders associated with pleura are pleurisy, pleural effusion, pneumothorax, and hemothorax. Pleurisy occurs due to the inflammatory reaction in the pleura. Pleural effusion and hemothorax occur due to the accumulation of fluid and blood, respectively. The air entrapment eventually leads to pneumothorax. Pleurisy and other pleural disorders are long-term conditions. The pleural inflammation recurs more frequently, even after recovery. The pleural disorders are interlinked with each other, so it requires immediate treatment to prevent worsening.

What Are the Causes of Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders?

The following are the causes associated with pleurisy and other pleural disorders;

  • Viral Infection - Patients with autoimmune disorders are affected by pleurisy because they are more prone to viral infection. It affects the respiratory system.

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Patients with inflammatory bowel disease are affected by pleurisy due to inflammation.

  • Pneumonia - The lung infection in patients with pneumonia due to bacteria results in pleurisy at later stages.

  • Congestive Heart Failure - The dysfunction of the heart during the systolic and diastolic phases causes congestive heart failure. These patients are affected by pleural effusion.

  • Pulmonary Embolism - The obstructed blood flow causes pulmonary embolism and leads to pleural effusion.

  • Tuberculosis - This bacterial infection affects the lungs and causes a life-threatening condition called pneumothorax.

  • Acute Lung Injury - Acute lung injury induces respiratory dysfunction and causes pneumothorax.

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder - It affects the main air passage and air sacs as well. Then it damages the lungs and results in pneumothorax. Patients with asthma are also affected by pleural-related disorders due to infection.

  • Trauma - The blunt injury to the area around the chest results in hemothorax. Any recent surgery can also cause chest injury.

  • Lung Cancer - Pleural disorders are associated with tumors present in the lungs. The cancer cells spread to the pleural space and cause pleural disorders.

  • Asbestosis - The irritation of the pleural lining due to asbestosis causes pleural-related disorders. It most commonly causes pneumothorax.

What Are the Symptoms of Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders?

The symptoms associated with pleurisy and other pleural disorders are as follows;

  • Chest Pain - Since the layer covering the chest is affected, it causes stabbing pain in the chest area. It is a sharp pain and lasts for minutes to hours. It is also known as pleuritic pain, as it commonly occurs in patients with pleurisy. This pain spreads to the shoulder or back muscles.

  • Cough - The common symptom of pleurisy and other pleural disorders is cough. A never-ending cough causes pain in the chest.

  • Fatigue - The patient with pleurisy and pleural disorder gets frequent respiratory infections and becomes exhausted.

  • Fever - The viral and bacterial infections present result in increased body temperature.

  • Breathlessness - The main organs affected due to pleurisy and other pleural disorders are the lungs. It eventually results in shortness of breath.

  • Loss of Weight - The patient with pleural disorders becomes weak and loses weight.

How Are Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders Diagnosed?

It is important to identify the cause and underlying infection that is responsible for pleurisy. So pleurisy and other pleural disorders are diagnosed with the following methods;

  • Blood Test - The common diagnostic test used to determine pleurisy is a blood test. Because the alteration in white blood cells and red blood cells can be observed in X-rays, it is used to analyze autoimmune disorders and microbial infections.

  • Chest X-Rays - Pleurisy and other pleural disorders are diagnosed using chest X-rays. The presence of pleural fluids can be detected using the radiographic image. The inflation of the lungs can also be observed using chest X-rays.

  • Computerized Tomography Scan (CT Scan) - Each part of the lungs is scanned using computerized tomography. So the presence of air, fluid, and blood due to pleurisy and other pleural disorders can be observed using computerized tomography. The rib damage in the hemothorax is clearly visualized using a computerized tomography scan.

  • Ultrasound Scan - It is particularly useful for diagnosing pneumothorax. The sound waves with high frequency are inclined towards the chest area. There is an altered wavelength due to the presence of fluid. It can be observed using a monitor. It helps to rule out various lung diseases.

  • Thoracoscopy - It is also known as pleuroscopy. As the name suggests, it is used to diagnose pleura-related issues. Thoracoscope is inserted into the incision made on the chest. The fluid present in between the pleura is visualized using a camera. Also, thoracoscopy provides direct vision because incisions are made in the chest.

How Are Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders Treated?

Pleurisy and other pleural disorders are treated by combining medication with surgery. They are as follows;

  • Medication - The patients treated with antibiotics for pleurisy and other pleural disorders usually recover within a week. Ibuprofen is used to treat infection due to pleurisy and other pleural disorders. It also reduces inflammatory reactions. Steroids may also be prescribed for pleural disorders to reduce inflammatory pain.

  • Thoracentesis - After giving anesthesia, a needle is inserted. It is directed between the ribs with the help of computerized tomography or ultrasound scan. The fluid collection is then drawn using the needle. This aids in breathing and helps in the recovery of patients with pleural disorders.


Pleurisy and other pleural disorders are not contagious diseases. Since these diseases involve the lungs, the patient should avoid smoking. The patient should relax and avoid a polluted environment. It helps in improving the symptoms related to pleurisy and other pleural disorders. Consult the physician earlier if there are any symptoms related to pleurisy and other pleural disorders. Mild pleurisy does not require any treatment and recovers on its own. Some patients with pleural disorders require artificial oxygen for respiration. These patients should avoid medications like Isoniazid and Hydralazine due to side effects.

Last reviewed at:
20 Mar 2023  -  4 min read




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