Pleurisy, which is also known as pleuritis, is the inflammation of the tissue that cushions and protects the lungs (called the pleura). The condition is often caused by a viral infection, like the flu. Experts have pointed out that pleurisy may also be a symptom of lung cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, pulmonary embolism, a chest injury, or pleural tumor. While pleurisy is prevalent among people over 65, it is worth noting that it can also affect young people too (including children).
Symptoms of Pleurisy
According to this study, the main symptom of pleurisy is a sharp pain in the chest. The pain may worsen when one sneezes, coughs, or breathes deeply. Depending on the cause of the condition, one may also experience symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, and chills.
If the condition is accompanied by pleural effusion (buildup of fluid in the pleurae), your lungs may stop working properly. When this happens, you may experience symptoms like shortness of breath and dry cough.
Diagnosis of Pleurisy
To determine if you have pleurisy, your doctor will carry out a physical exam and ask about the symptoms you are experiencing. Below are a few other tests your doctor may conduct:
- Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) Test: This test is done to help your physician determine if your lungs are working properly. During the test, a sample of your blood will be collected to evaluate the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide present.
- Chest X-Ray: Chest X-rays help doctors see if there is any inflammation and fluid in the lungs.
- Ultrasound: If your physician suspects that you have pleuritis and pleural effusion, they will do an ultrasound to find the area where the fluid is located.
- Blood Test: This is done to determine the root cause of the condition. A blood test can reveal if it is caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
- MRI and CT Scan: Just like an ultrasound, MRI and CT scans can help narrow down the area where fluid (linked to pleural effusion) is located in the lungs. They can also help to determine if the condition is caused by a tumor, pneumonia, or a lung abscess.
How to Treat Pleurisy
Your doctor may recommend the following if you have pleurisy. To ensure that the condition goes away, however, your physician will have to narrow down the underlying cause of the condition.
- Over-the-Counter Medications: Non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs are often recommended, like aspirin and ibuprofen. If a patient can’t tolerate these drugs, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics will be prescribed if the condition is caused by a bacterial infection since they are the most effective way to treat that cause.
- Biologic Medications: These may be recommended if the condition is linked to rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Antiparasitic Medications: Your doctor will prescribe antiparasitic medications if the condition is caused by a parasite.
- Surgery: Surgery may be recommended if a patient has pleurisy along with pleural effusion. During the procedure, a special pipe will be used to drain the fluids in the lungs.
- Oxygen Therapy: Oxygen therapy may be recommended if the condition is linked to pneumothorax.
How to Manage Pleurisy
Below are some natural remedies that may ease the symptoms of pleurisy. Be sure to consult your doctor before using any of them.
Garlic: Garlic is loaded with organosulfur, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, it can boost the immune system. Multiple studies have shown that garlic may attack the bacteria that cause pleurisy.
Caraway Tea: Caraway seeds, which are used to prepare caraway tea, contain a compound known as carvone. Studies have shown that carvone has anti-inflammatory properties and may help address the symptoms of pleurisy.
- What happens if I don’t seek medical attention? The condition may improve on its own if it is caused by a viral infection. However, if it is caused by a bacterial infection, you will need to take antibiotics in order for the condition to improve. To be on the safe side, you should seek prompt medical attention if you are experiencing any symptoms of pleurisy.
2. What increases the risk of having pleurisy? Here are some factors that may increase the odds of contracting pleurisy:
- Having a lung disorder
- A chest injury
- Being over 65 years old
- Having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!