Pleurisy, also called pleuritis, is an inflammation of the pleura — the moist, double-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the rib cage. The condition can make breathing extremely painful and, sometimes, is associated with the development of pleural effusion, in which the area between the membrane’s layers, called the pleural space, fills with excess fluid.
Viral infection is probably the most common cause of pleurisy. Other diseases that can cause pleurisy are lung infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, and other diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and pulmonary embolisms. Congestive heart failure is a common cause of pleural effusion. Other causes include chest injuries and cancer.
Pleurisy and pleural effusion are generally only as serious as the underlying disease. If you have either of these conditions, you may already be undergoing treatment for the underlying disease; if not, seek medical attention immediately.
Severe, fleeting, sharp pain in your chest, often on one side only, when breathing deeply, coughing, moving or sneezing.
Severe chest pain that goes away when you hold your breath.
Shortness of breath.
A dry cough.
The double-layered pleura protects and lubricates the surface of the lungs as they inflate and deflate within the rib cage. Normally, a thin, fluid-filled gap — the pleural space — allows the two layers of the pleural membrane to slide gently past each other. But when these layers become inflamed by the conditions listed above, their roughened surfaces rub painfully together like two pieces of sandpaper with every breath, sneeze and cough. This condition is known as pleurisy.
In some cases of pleurisy, excess fluid seeps into the pleural space, resulting in pleural effusion. This fluid buildup usually has a lubricating effect, relieving the pain associated with pleurisy …