Pleuritis; Pleuritic chest pain
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest (the pleura) that leads to chest pain when you take a breath or cough.
It may also occur with:
The main symptom of pleurisy is pain in the chest. This pain often occurs when you take a deep breath in or out, or cough. Some people feel the pain in the shoulder.
Deep breathing, coughing, and chest movement make the pain worse.
Pleurisy can cause fluid to collect inside the chest. As a result, the following symptoms can occur:
When you have pleurisy, the normally smooth surfaces lining the lung (the pleura) become rough. They rub together with each breath. This results in a rough, grating sound called a friction rub. Your health care provider may hear this sound with the stethoscope.
Your provider may order the following tests:
Treatment depends on the cause of the pleurisy. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Surgery or insertion of a tube in the chest may be needed to drain infected fluid from the lungs. Viral infections normally run their course without medicines.
Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce pain.
Recovery depends on the cause of the pleurisy and your general health condition.
Health problems that may develop from pleurisy include:
Contact your provider if you have symptoms of pleurisy. If you have breathing difficulty or your skin turns blue (cyanosis), seek medical care right away.
Early treatment of bacterial respiratory infections can prevent pleurisy.
Fenster BE, Lee-Chiong TL, Gebhart GF, Matthay RA. Chest pain. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 38.
McCool FD. Diseases of the diaphragm, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Goldman L, Cooney KA, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 27th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2024:chap 86.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 8/13/2023
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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