Pleurisy or Chest Pain when Breathing

Chest | Pulmonology | Pleurisy or Chest Pain when Breathing (Symptom)


Pleurisy (also known as pleuritis) is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Pleurisy describes the chest pain syndrome characterized by a sharp chest pain that worsens with breathing. Pleurisy is frequently associated with the accumulation of extra fluid in the space between the two layers of pleura. This fluid is referred to as a pleural effusion.

Depending on its cause, pleurisy may be accompanied by other symptoms: shortness of breath; cough; fever and chills; rapid, shallow breathing; unexplained weight loss; Sore throat followed by pain and swelling in the joints; diarrhea; ventricular tachycardia; coughing up blood.


Pleurisy can be caused by any of the following conditions: infections: bacterial (including those that cause tuberculosis), fungi, parasites, or viruses; inhaled chemicals or toxic substances: exposure to some cleaning agents like ammoniac; collagen vascular diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis); cancers, for example, the spread of lung cancer or breast cancer to the pleura; tumours of the pleura (mesothelioma or sarcoma); congestion: heart failure; pulmonary embolism; obstruction of lymph channels; trauma: rib fractures or irritation from chest tubes used to drain air or fluid from the pleural cavity in the chest; certain drugs: drugs that can cause lupus-like syndromes; abdominal processes, such as pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, gallbladder disease, and damage to the spleen.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Complete physical examination and may be a number of tests to exclude other conditions are done to diagnose pleurisy. Treatments applied depend on the underlying cause, along with analgesic drugs.