Symptoms and Signs of Pleurisy

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Pleurisy

Pleurisy is inflammation of the tissues that line the lung and the chest cavities, known as the pleura. Infections are a common cause of pleurisy. Other diseases and conditions that can cause pleurisy include congestive heart failure, cancer that has spread to the lungs or pleura, pulmonary embolism, trauma or injury, and certain collagen vascular diseases. Sometimes, conditions of the abdomen, such as pancreatitis or cirrhosis of the liver, can cause pleurisy.

The pleura contains the pain nerve fibers of the lung, so inflammation of the pleura causes characteristic symptoms and signs. Symptoms of pleurisy include chest pain that is worse when breathing in, tenderness, and shortness of breath. The pain can occur on the front or the back of the chest. Cough or a “stabbing” sensation can be an associated symptom.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.