The pleura is a two layered sac that holds the lungs and separates them from the chest wall, diaphragm, and heart. Pleurisy results from an inflammation of this sac.
The pleura that lines the inside of the chest is called the parietal pleura. The pleura that covers the lungs is called the visceral pleura. If you are healthy, the pleurais separated by a thin layer of fluid. This lets the lungs expand and contract easily during breathing. The inflammation that occurs with pleurisy can cause pain with breathing and may even cause a large amount of fluid to collect in the pleural sac.
Pleurisy can go away on its own or worsen so that fluid has to be drained from around the lungs. Some people develop scar tissue called adhesions after they have pleurisy. They then have chronic pain or shortness of breath.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/9/2014
Christopher P Holstege, MD
Nathan P Charlton, MD
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