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Pleurisy (also called Pleuritis) is an inflamation of the pleural membranes (which is where the name pleurisy is from) that both surround the lungs and line the ribcage. these membranes are responsible for supplying lubrication (called serous fluids) between the moving parts of the lungs and the body.


Pleurisy tends to be caused by an underlying disease and rarely occurs on its own. Diseases that pleurisy often accompanies are:

Types of Pleurisy

Pleurisy is classified as being either dry or effusive.

Symptoms of dry pleurisy:

Severe, sharp, but quick pain, often only on one side of the chest, that occurs when breathing deeply, coughing, or sneezing. A doctor can diagnose dry pleurisy by listening for raspy sounds of the membranes rubbing together.

Dry pleurisy reduces the amount of lubrication created and results in a sticking pain. the pleural lining becomes covered with an excretion of lymph and fibrin, which cause abrasions on the pleural membranes when they come into contact with each other, the lungs, or the chest wall. these abrasions are usually permanent and can seriously reduce lung expansion.

Symptoms of Pleural Effusion:

shortness of breath (caused by pressure from the fuid on the lungs), a dry cough. A doctor would use chest x-rays to diagnose fluid within the pleural membranes.

Effusive pleurisy causes a build up of serous fluid within the pleural space. the inflamed areas of the pleura may stick together by adhesions, which are usually permanent. This type of pleurisy, though more serious, hurts less than dry pleurisy due to the cushioning effect of the excess fluid.

Prognosis and Treatment

Pleurisy is general considered only as serious as the underlying condition which brought it about. Antibiotics, codeine based cough-syrup, and anti-inflammatory drugs are often perscribed. In the event of pleural effusion, a hospital stay may be required, and the liquid may be removed through a chest tube and examined to determine their cause. Often, symptoms without complications clear completely and spontaneously in 2 weeks.

As a personal note: dry pleurisy hurts like the dickens.
How to Avoid Pleurisy: Never make love to a girl named Candy on the tailgate of a half-ton Ford pickup during a chill rain in April out on Grandview Point in San Juan County, Utah.

-Edward Abbey

Pleu"ri*sy (?), n. [F. pleur'esie, L. pleurisis, pleuritis, Gr pleyri^tis (sc. no`sos), fr. pleyra` rib, side.] Med.

An inflammation of the pleura, usually accompanied with fever, pain, difficult respiration, and cough, and with exudation into the pleural cavity.

Pleurisy root. Bot. (a) The large tuberous root of a kind of milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) which is used as a remedy for pleuritic and other diseases. (b) The plant itself, which has deep orange-colored flowers; -- called also butterfly weed.


© Webster 1913.

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