Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, a membrane that consists of a layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs and a layer of tissue that lines the inner side of the chest cavity.
Pleurisy is commonly associated with pleural effusion, the accumulation of fluid between the two layers of pleura.
Note – since the fluid stops the membranes from grating against each other, pleural effusion may actually ease the symptoms of pleurisy.
The most often symptom of pleurisy is a sharp chest pain. The pain is typically made worse when you cough or breathe. Other signs and symptoms might include:
- in some cases, a fever (high temperature);
- a cough;
- shortness of breath.
Viral infections are the most common cause of the inflammation of the pleura. Viruses can cause infections in the lungs, which can lead to the condition.
- pneumothorax – it is an abnormal collection of air in the pleural space, which occurs from trauma or spontaneously;
- parasitic or fungal infections;
- abdominal processes, like – cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), damage to the spleen, or gallbladder disease;
- mesothelioma – it is a type of cancer which is caused by asbestos exposure;
- lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system);
- certain drugs which can cause lupus-like syndromes, like – Procan, hydralazine (sold under the brand name Apresoline), or Procanbid;
- obstruction of lymph channels;
- trauma caused by irritation from chest tubes used to drain fluid or air from the pleural cavity in the chest or rib fractures;
- lung cancer – it is a type of cancer which begins in the lungs;
- pulmonary embolism – it is a blood clot that occurs in the lungs. These blood clots may reduce oxygen and blood to portions of the lung;
- heart surgery complications;
- sarcoma – it is a type of cancer which arises from transformed cells of mesenchymal origin;
- sickle cell anemia – it is a disorder of the blood that is caused by inherited abnormal hemoglobin;
- breast cancer;
- immune system disorders, like – rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus;
- infections caused by bacteria.
Your doctor will diagnose the condition by studying your symptoms. In addition, he will ask about your personal habits, including the use of street drugs (like – cocaine and marijuana) and tobacco.
Moreover, some tests may be required to identify the underlying cause of your condition and to assess how severe it is. Tests can include:
- a biopsy – during this test, a small sample of lung or pleural tissue is removed for further testing;
- a computerized tomography (CT) scan;
- an ultrasound scan of the chest;
- chest X-rays – it can show areas of pulmonary tuberculosis, pneumonia (an infection in one or both of the lungs), pleural effusion, pulmonary embolism, or a cancerous nodule;
- blood tests – these are done to determine whether the patient has an autoimmune condition or an infection.
To relieve the symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend:
- medications to stop the fluid from building up again;
- thoracentesis (removing air, fluid, or blood from the pleural space) – this procedure can remove more than 6 cups of fluid at a time. During this procedure, your healthcare professional will insert a thin needle into the pleural space;
- corticosteroids – these medications are given to decrease inflammation and to decrease the immune system’s response in autoimmune diseases;
- cough suppressants – Dextromethorphan (affects the signals in the brain which trigger the cough reflex) is a commonly used OTC cough suppressant;
- blood thinners – a blood thinner like heparin or enoxaparin (a low molecular weight heparin) may be given, especially if a pulmonary embolism is the cause of pleurisy;
- pain-killing medication;
- medications like anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) and antibiotics;
- codeine-based cough syrups are given to control coughing.
10 Natural Remedies For Pleurisy
Peppermint essential oil and peppermint contains menthol, an active ingredient that is known to promote free breathing and to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract.
#2 Osha Root
Osha root (scientific name – Ligusticum porteri) is native to the Rocky Mountains and it can increase circulation in the lungs.
Echinacea is an attractive flower which resembles daisies and has been used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 500 years. According to research, echinacea has potent antiviral properties.
Garlic is one of the best natural remedies for upper respiratory infections due to an antibacterial chemical in garlic that is excreted out of the human body through the lungs. Garlic can be used in food preparations, added to tea or eaten raw.
#5 Eucalyptus Essential Oil
It is an effective antiseptic, decongestant, and expectorant which benefits the entire respiratory system. Eucalyptus essential oil had a soothing effect on the throat of individuals with upper respiratory tract infections, according to a study that was published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Thyme is an aromatic perennial evergreen herb that contains an impressive list of nutrients, vitamins, and essential oils like thymol.
Not only does it kill bacteria in the lungs and acts as an antispasmodic on lung tissue but it also moves excess mucus out of the lungs to ease a cough.
#7 Use a Humidifier
Humidification therapy is cost-effective and effective for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to a 2014 study that was issued in Value in Health.
Lungwort, also known as Pulmonaria, is a medicinal herb used to treat kidney and urinary tract problems, and stomach and intestinal ailments. Also, it has been used to clear congestion and to promote respiratory and lung health.
It is considered an excellent source of antioxidants which can help to naturally boost the immune system and fight infections. Oregano is also loaded with vitamin K and calcium and can help with the growth of teeth and bones.
Rest is essential for cellular repair in the human body. Also, it may be particularly beneficial for shortness of breath.
Important note – physical exertion should be kept to a minimum when dealing with pleurisy.