Pleurisy occurs when the membranes surrounding the lungs become inflamed. Patients may develop pleurisy after a viral or bacterial infection or after surgery or trauma. Symptoms, which include a cough, fever, shortness of breath and chest pain, can range from mild to severe. Fluid or other foreign particles enter the membranes, aggravating them and leading to inflammation. A doctor will let you know if your pleurisy caused your symptoms, and can help you to determine the best course of action for treatment.
When the pleural fluid itself is infected, a physician may prescribe a short course of antibiotics or a much longer course for more serious infections. Antibiotics can have serious side effects and can reduce your body's ability to defend itself against future infections if overused, so your doctor will typically prescribe the lowest effective dosage.
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