Apr 6, 2014
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Inflammation of the PLEURA or serous membrane investing the lung and lining the inner surface of the ribs. It is a common condition, and may be either acute or chronic, the latter being usually tuberculous in origin (see TUBERCULOSIS).

Many cases of pleurisy are associated with only a little effusion, the inflammation consisting chiefly in exudation of FIBRIN: to this form the term ‘dry pleurisy’ is applied. Further, pleurisy may be limited to a very small area – or, on the contrary, may affect, throughout a greater or less extent, the pleural surfaces of both lungs.

Causes Pleurisy is often associated with other forms of inflammatory disease within the chest, more particularly PNEUMONIA, BRONCHIECTASIS, and tuberculosis; it occasionally accompanies PERICARDITIS. It may also be due to carcinoma of the lung, or be secondary to abdominal infections such as subphrenic abscess. Further, wounds or injuries of the thoracic walls are apt to set up pleurisy.

Symptoms The symptoms of pleurisy vary, being generally well marked, but sometimes obscure. DRY PLEURISY In the case of dry pleurisy, which is, on the whole, the milder form, the chief symptom is a sharp pain in the side, felt especially on breathing. Fever may or may not be present. There is a slight, dry cough, and breathing is quicker than normal and shallow. PLEURISY WITH EFFUSION is usually more severe than dry pleurisy, and, although it may in some cases develop insidiously, it is in general ushered in sharply by shivering and fever, like other acute inflammatory diseases. Pain is felt in the side or breast, of a severe cutting or stabbing character. A dry cough usually occurs and breathing is painful and difficult.

Treatment The treatment varies greatly with the form and severity of the attack. Bed rest, antibiotics, analgesics and antipyretics are advisable. A large pleural effusion may need to be drained via an aspiration needle.

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Medical Dictionary

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