Home   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z 

Pleurisy Symptoms and Causes

Pleurisy (also known as pleuritis) is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy.

The inflamed pleural layers rub against each other every time the lungs expand to breathe in air. This can cause severe sharp pain with inhalation (also called pleuritic chest pain).


The pleural membranes become swollen and inflamed; they at first rub together with each breath, causing severe pain and sound that can be heard by a physician using his stethoscope. The pain suddenly becomes more severe if the person attempts to take a quick deep breath, cough, or sneeze.

Fluid may form in the space between the lung and the chest wall. When that happens, the rubbing sound disappears, as well as most or all the pain. There may only be a little fluid or it may fill half the chest cavity, compressing the lung.

Pleurisy can also appear on the surface of the diaphragm. In this case, the pain is in the abdomen, at the pit of the stomach, or can even be referred pain to the shoulder.

In children, both the pain of pleurisy and that of pneumonia are frequently located in the abdomen, causing others to think the problem is acute indigestion or appendicitis.


Pleurisy is a common complication of several different medical conditions, the most pervasive being a viral infection of the lower respiratory system. Other causes, according to the website MedicalNewsToday.com include:

  • Bacterial infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis
  • A chest wound that punctured the pleural cavity
  • A pleural tumor
  • Autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • A heart surgery complication
  • Lung cancer or lymphoma
  • A fungal or parasitic infection
  • Familial Mediterranean fever
  • Infections can sometimes spread from person to person, but it is rare to "catch" pleurisy.

Privacy Policy