Pleurisy, also known as pleuritus, is an inflammation of the pleura, or the lining of the lungs. This can often be very painful and can be debilitating to a point where a person cannot do much activity because of the pain. This can cause problems breathing and may even make a person run out of breath to a point in which they could pass out. The complications from this disorder can be very serious and in some cases it can be fatal. It is important to see a doctor to determine a course of action to take towards pleuritis once it is detected.
Who Can Get Pleuritis?
Anyone could get pleuritis and it can be caused by a large list of different reasons. It is very important to see a doctor if any chest pains occur during breathing as it could be the onset of the affliction or the worsening of the complications that it is causing within the person. The likelihood of having pleuritis is very high, especially when a person gets a severe respiratory infection or disease. It is not impossible to prevent it, but it generally occurs in less healthy individuals with bad lifestyles.
The Causes of Pleuritis
Causes of pleuritis are very broad and can encompass a wide range of underlying complications and conditions. It is important to look into the possibility of having pleurisy of you have experienced any of or a combination of the following afflictions:
Viral Infections – The infections caused by viruses are the most common causes of pleurisy. The simple buildup of materials could be due to inefficient removal of materials that were left over during an internal battle with a virus. This can leave several locations on the lining of the lungs that can be inflamed, causing pleuritis.
Bacterial Infections – Many people will also experience pleuritis when they experience a bacterial infection of the lungs. Although many of the treatments designed to battle bacterial infections are available such as antibiotics, it often does not repair the damages that are caused by the infection and can lead to many instances of pleuritis. This can be extremely difficult to deal with and treat in the long run.
Pneumonia – Pneumonia is a type of bacterial infection that can cause many different afflictions if the person survives the sickness. One of the most common things that occur is pleuritis by the inflamed lung lining and weakened breathing of the individual who has or had the disease. It could be caused by secondary infections caused by pneumonia as well.
Tuberculosis – Tuberculosis is not as common as it used to be, but the isolated incidents in which it has occurred, many people developed pleuritis. This is characteristic of the damage done to the lungs during the bout with tuberculosis as the lungs would bleed and fill with fluid that can be seen often during the sickness of the individual.
Autoimmune disorders – When the body mistakenly attacks its own tissues, the lungs can be incapacitated over time and the complications of pleuritis will take effect. It is important to look into treatments for the autoimmune disorder if available to ensure that the patient has a chance to recover.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – The rheumatoid arthritis complications with fluid buildup and increased pain in areas of the body may put the lungs in a compromised position to develop pleuritis. Having pain in the back and trying to avoid causing the pain can weaken and damage the lining of the lungs and make it possible for pleuritis to occur.
Lung cancer – lung cancer due to smoking or other reasons can cause varying levels of pleuritis. Some types of lymphoma can also cause the pleuritis when they develop on the lining of the lungs and is very difficult to treat. It is possible that this cannot be treatable and the person would have to live the rest of their lives with pleuritis.
Common Lung Diseases – Pleuritis can be caused by a wide range of common lung diseases. Something as simple as a cold or bronchitis can cause pleuritis. The only way to get over the pleuritis is to treat it with the known methods and hope to recover from the condition as soon as possible to return to their daily lives.
Mesothelioma – Lung diseases caused by external influences such as asbestos exposure can also lead to pleuritis. This is very difficult to treat as the lungs are already infused with very micro sized crystals of asbestos. These can cause lifelong pleuritis depending on whether or not the condition kills the patient.
Pulmonary Embolism – Blood clots in the blood vessels that go into the lungs will cause pulmonary embolism. This can be dangerous and cause death to the individual within a short period of time, but those in which it only effects reduction or blockage of blood flow may cause pleuritis. This condition can worsen and become very dangerous over time.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease – This disease can cause inflammation on the bowels and surrounding organs. This inflammation can also occur on the lining of the lungs, potentially causing pleuritis. The inflammation can develop into buildup of fluids, blood and other materials in the lungs causing severe discomfort.
Familial Mediterranean Fever – This is an inherited condition that often causes fever and swelling in the abdomen or lung which could become pleuritis. The damages that this can cause can be very severe and make it very difficult to treat the symptoms since it is an inherited disease.
Fungal Infection – Fungal infections can be caused by a large number of fungi. Many spores of fungi are free floating in the air and can be very dangerous to a person with lower immune function. The fungus may start to colonize the lungs with inhalation and can cause damages leading to pleuritis and eventually death if not treated right away.
Parasitic Infection – Parasites are some of the most disgusting creatures that make their way into the body. These parasites such as worms in the tissue can cause damages to the organs that they infest such as the lungs. They can create cavities that they leave feces in which could become infectious and cause pleuritis to occur in the lungs.
Heart surgery – Coronary artery bypass grafting and other types of heart surgery require that the lungs be exposed and possibly damaged for the invasive procedures. This makes it very easy to expose the lungs to damages that can cause pleuritis. This is very hard to avoid, especially if time is of the essence to do heart surgery quickly enough to prevent the permanent death of the patient from heart surgery complications.
Chest Injuries – Trauma to the chest may cause damage to the lungs which could lead to pleuritis during the healing process. This is possible with many types of injury including broken ribs, gunshot wounds, and penetration of materials such as a knife or anything that can have bacteria on it. The ability to survive such horrific encounters does not save them from pleuritis which could occur at any time.
Completely Spontaneous Occurrence – Pleuritis does not need for a sickness or damage to the lungs to be present to occur. Sometimes the body simply malfunctions and the buildup of fluid in the lining of the lungs simply happens spontaneously. The complications could be just as severe as pleuritis caused by other means.
Symptoms and Complications Associated with Pleuritis
There are many symptoms and complications associated with pleuritis that can occur at any time and can are not always treatable. The following are possible symptoms and complications that may be present when pleuritis is affecting the individual:
Shortness of breath – One of the main symptoms will always be difficulty breathing as this complication will affect the lungs. The pleuritis may have low or severe influence on the ability to breathe and this makes it very difficult to be able to do many things because of the shortness of breath.
Cough – Coughing is common in sufferers of pleuritis as the disease deals with the lungs and often induces coughing episodes. The coughs will generally cause a great deal of pain for those who have pleuritis, as the disease will cause the inflamed lining of the lungs to rub against other tissues and organs which could become rather painful.
Fever and Chills – Fevers and chills are very common as well in individuals with pleuritis, as the buildup of fluid can also be toxic and cause the body to heat up from the complications. Difficulty breathing may not get enough oxygen to the blood, causing the body to feel like it is getting colder. This artificially boosts body heat in an attempt to recover the warmth that the body thinks that it is missing.
Breathing Issues – Rapid, shallow breathing may be present as the body tries to get enough oxygen to work correctly. This is the type of breathing that people experience on the top of tall mountains or in locations where there is very little oxygen to breathe, such as smoke filled rooms during a fire. The body may try to do this when the fluid buildup has occurred with pleuritis.
Unexplained Weight Loss – Unexplained weight loss is a very unusual indicator that pleuritis is present in the body. This can be due to several different reasons but it is most likely because the body does not know how to cope with the pleuritis. This can also be due to the fact that it can become painful to eat when the pleuritis is present and the pain does not allow for proper digestion of food ingested.
Sore throat – A sore throat is very common and makes it possible to look for problems such as pleuritis when other symptoms are present. This could be due to several reasons including the spread of the pleuritis problem near the esophagus. This infection occurring near the trachea can usually make the throat feel very sore.
Pain and Swelling of Joints – Joints swelling with pain are often caused by arthritis and arthritis is one of the underlying causes of pleuritis in some patients. It is very important to look into the available options to treat this pain to help alleviate the symptoms and possibly prevent the further spread of pleuritis through arthritis.
Collapsed Lung – When a lung weakens to a point that it no longer can support itself, it collapses. This is something that can occur in patients with pleuritis as it does cause weakening of the lungs. Many people look into the available options to treat pleuritis to prevent this from happening because a collapsed lung may not work anywhere near as well as a fully working lung. Collapsed lungs often need to be removed as well to prevent various other complications.
Complications from the Underlying Disease – The underlying diseases that cause pleuritis can essentially cause many other complications which could worsen the extent of pleuritis as well. Make sure to look into the options of treating these underlying diseases to help decrease the possibility of extraneous complications.
Diagnostics and Tests for Pleuritis
Testing for pleuritis is sokmewhat simple and can be done in a matter of time to help catch the affliction before it becomes too difficult to handle. The following diagnostics and tests can help to find where the pleuritis is occurring and what should be done to fix or help reduce the damage that pleuritis causes.
CBC – The complete blood count screen helps to determine whether or not the blood is being produced correctly and can help to identify diseases and disorders like pleuritis. This test is more of an option to check whether or not blood cell count is showing anything abnormal in the body.
Thoracentesis – This is when the location of fluid in the chest is confirmed and the doctor decides to withdraw a sample of the fluid for testing. This testing can help determine if the fluid is caused because of pleuritis. If so, the person will be checked to see the possible treatment options for the disease.
Arterial Blood Tests – These blood tests are done from easy to access artery locations such as the wrists to get a blood sample for testing. In these tests, the blood is checked for the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide that is being handled in the blood. It can call for additional testing to determine that the person has pleuritis.
Ultrasound of the Chest – The ultrasound of the chest can reveal fluid cavities in the lungs and lung tissues. It is helpful in locating where the pleuritis resides and to plan for actions towards removal of this fluid in the lung tissue.
CT scan of the Chest – A CT ccan is useful in having a 3 dimensional view of the pleuritis to ensure that it is treatable and to plan out steps to remove the fluid and material buildup that is there. The CT scan may be much more accurate than an ultrasound but may not have an up to date view of the pleuritis once procedures to remove the fluids are ready.
X-Ray of the Chest – An x-ray is a very useful tool that can show pockets of fluid buildup in the lungs and can help doctors make a quick decision whether or not to drain these fluid filled pleuritis locations.
Biopsy – A biopsy of the pleura may be examined when cancer or tuberculosis is suspected. This can help determine what course of action to take with the pleuritis to prevent further damages and infection of the locations.
Treatments for Pleuritis
The treatments for pleuritis are often very effective in preventing the spread of the affliction to other locations. It is important to prevent the spread of pleuritis and ensure that it is properly treated. The following treatments can be useful in alleviating the complications of pleuritis:
Removal of Materials from Pleural Space – The fluid, air and or blood can be removed from the area of the lung to help improve the condition, allow the area to heal and possibly prevent further pleuritis related afflictions in the area. This does not always work to cure the problem but it does alleviate the pain in most instances.
Relieve symptoms – Relieving the individual symptoms can be a great help towards a cure for pleuritis. This helps the body to focus on curing other portions of the pleuritis that can keep it coming back. This can be accomplished in several ways.
Treat Underlying Conditions – Underlying conditions can really make it very difficult to completely recover from pleuritis. Possible removal of the other complications from the body can stop pleuritis from occurring and returning in the lungs. This can also be done in several different ways.
Viral Course – Usually letting a pleuritis case due to a virus run its course can allow the pleuritis to simply go with the virus as natural drainage occurs. Sometimes the removal of the fluids in pleuritis sacs needs to be done to allow for complete recovery.
Prognosis and Outlook of Patients with Pleuritis
Many people with pleuritis will be able to make a full recovery if their underlying problems are taken care of. Proper treatment of the affliction makes it possible to really come through strong. There is a possibility of death caused by pleuritis in very unhealthy individuals if they do not make the necessary lifestyle changes needed to heal from the complications of pleuritis.