The pleura consists of several layers of tissue that surround the lungs. One layer surrounds your lungs, and the other surrounds the insides of your chest cavity. These layers contain a bit of fluid that acts as a lubricant to keep your lungs from rubbing against the chest cavity. Pleurisy is when these linings become swollen and inflamed. The most common cause of pleurisy is a bacterial infection. Pneumonia is often associated with pleurisy. A virus, such as the flu, or a fungus can also cause this inflammation. Pleurisy is not treated as a separate disease condition. When the cause is treated with appropriate medication, pleurisy will go away too. Other conditions that can inflame the pleura include lung cancer, a blood clot in the lung, cancer of the pleura, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. In most cases, the pleurisy is expected to go away as a result of treatment of the underlying cause.
Pleurisy is diagnosed by asking about your pain. The physician can also hear the pleura rubbing against each other with a stethoscope. The physician may also order imaging through an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan. Blood tests may also be involved to check for underlying conditions that may be causing it. The physician may also order an EKG to rule out the possibility of an underlying heart condition as the cause of the pain. In severe cases, too much fluid builds up between the pleural linings. When this happens, the physician may use a syringe to remove some of the fluid.
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