Pleurisy (Pain, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment)

Question:

How was the diagnosis of your pleurisy (pleuritis) established? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: senora, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 07

I fell a few weeks ago and started to have pain in my right flank a few days later. I thought I had cracked or broken a rib, so I went to my doctor. After 2 more weeks of guesswork, 2 CT scans covering my entire torso, blood and urine tests, and 2 trips to the emergency room, the doctors said that, by process of elimination, they were going to treat me for pleurisy. I have just started treatment, so I guess I will know in a few days if the diagnosis is correct or not. Very painful and very frustrating for the past month.

Comment from: DGreen, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 28

After a two month trip in the Caribbean I came home with back pain after a respiratory infection while on vacation. I thought I had pulled a muscle in my back from coughing so hard. Then the pain started to spread from my back to my ribs, it circled me. My doctor did x-rays and found a fungal infection in my lungs and diagnosed my pain as pleurisy. It's been the most painful thing I've ever experienced. I am 6 weeks into this and afraid the pain will never go away. Night time is the hardest, I've never had a problem sleeping but now I dread lying down. Lying in bed is painful, it's hard to breath. I wonder if this is insomnia caused by pleurisy! Have patience is my best advice, and rest as hard as it is to be still and rest, you have to let your body heal.

Comment from: pammk, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 08

I was having very sharp pains when breathing and went to the doctor yesterday. I was told I had pleurisy. I have been given antibiotics and prednisone for treatment.

Comment from: Steve A, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 23

I've had a kink in my neck for 2 weeks, then I woke up with a pain in my right chest shooting up my throat but not as a sore throat. And my teeth on the right side started hurting. Next day my right ear and eye hurt. They all hurt worse when I breathe in or when I bend over or lie on my back. I have no previous medical issues and I'm 52. I am worried if it is pleurisy.

Comment from: mel, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 07

Over this past year I have had some health issues discovered; ascending aortic aneurysm, blood pressure got higher, had to have an angiogram, and my gallbladder removed. My chest still hurts on the left side of my breast bone. They have done several EKGs, that were fine, and they tell me it is not a symptom of the aneurysm. I am on a lot of medication, and they just want to add more. Cardiologist put me on a Z-Pak and no change. He said could be acid reflux, I had hiatal hernia before and it is not that. One of my friends suggested pleurisy. It makes sense and I have all the same symptoms you have described, and it is not getting better. I will be scheduling an appointment with the lung doctor this week.

Comment from: SoTired, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 24

I went to the emergency room for the same symptoms as pleurisy. I did all the tests to be told it was pleurisy and was given medications. I have taken all of them but the pain won't go away. I am constantly coughing, worse than before. I don't know what else to do.

Comment from: SusieQ, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 29

I awoke around 3 am with an 'I'm not feeling too good' type of feeling. I wasn't quite sure if I was nauseous or not. To be safe I went off to the bathroom. Yes, I was definitely nauseous as the up chucking began and it was with great effort and pain that my body brought up what I guess were toxins due to food poisoning. I also expelled from the bowels. It was not a quick fix but the beginning of 48 hours of continuing pain deep in my center. This was all early Tuesday morning. Thinking the worse I took myself to the doctor on Wednesday because the pain was only getting worse. Physician's assistant did an EKG, which came out fine. That night I took one large aspirin 325 mg, and another before falling asleep, as the pain had increased. The aspirin kicked in and I fell asleep. Thursday morning I could take deep breaths and move freely; all the pain had left. I still have a slight sore throat, very mild and a slight cough. But I am truly relieved to have my body came through this. I can only guess that the vomit somehow triggered the pain in my chest. That the nasty virus or bacteria was set loose in my chest causing this pleurisy attack. It was intense.

Comment from: 45-54 Female Published: March 29

First, I had a sore throat, then congestion and coughing. My illness subsided after seven days, but then I had pain and tenderness that started just bellow my right breast bone. Pressing on the area caused pain. It hurt to take deep breaths, cough, and sneeze. It was most painful at night while sleeping on my back. It felt better if I slept on my side. Three days later, it wasn't getting better, so I saw my doctor. I was diagnosed with pleurisy. I was subscribed 600 mg of ibuprofen to reduce the swelling and help with the pain. It's not getting better though.

Comment from: 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: March 02

I am a 30 year old male, smoke a lot (mostly joints) and had similar symptoms and thought it was the flu, then heartburn, indigestion, palpitations and figured I need some TLC and kept on going on with my normal life. It was hell though-anxiety, stress, dizziness I couldn't keep my posture straight and finally after 3 months went to the doc and 1 of my lungs was flat and there was hardcore pleural efficacy. Bottom-line still suffering from it (6 months) and is become part of life now. Even having sex has made me feel inadequate cause of the damn breathing issue's. Please don't take this lightly get medical advice ASAP. On a positive side am taking some homeopathic medicine and feel better in the last week or so Also a vacation to a sunny warm place does wonders!

Comment from: justaphase, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 08

I have had this before. I had been at the pc for a long time, not sitting up straight, which made me wonder if the lung had been "pinched" causing the fluid. I developed a sharp pain below the right breast, but also felt pain in the upper shoulder area. It was very difficult to breathe and this was my only symptom that time. At first, I thought it was gall bladder pain or bad heartburn, which I've also had before. Nothing seemed to help till I was told to take 4-5 ibuprofens. That at least dulled the pain. I went to the doctor the next morning and was diagnosed with pleurisy, put on an anti-biotic and regular ibuprofen. This time, I woke with bad heartburn and a slight tummy ache. I thought I had a touch of the flu. Over the course of the day, I developed a fever of 100.4. The pain began almost 12 hours later, again in the lower right breast area, but also in the upper shoulder. It was night time, so I took 4 ibuprofen, which again helped, but by no means gets rid of the pain. I went to the doctor this morning and again, it is pleurisy. I had no cough, though I did a couple of days ago. It helps to lay on the opposite side. It hurts badly to lay on my back or be up moving around. Today the doctor put me on an anti-biotic and regular ibuprofen.

Comment from: sls, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 28

I just got over pleurisy. I was 10 weeks pregnant and in a meeting at work when I got a very sharp pain under my ribs on the left side. I never had a heart attack but I figured that is what it feels like. I had a much duller pain all day that I had taken Tylenol for. When I got to the emergency room no one had a clue. They told me I had a pulmonary embolism. They did a bunch of different tests and came back and said it was not a pulmonary embolism and I could go home. No one could tell me why it hurts to breathe. The next day I went to my OBGYN who told me about pleurisy. She gave me an antibiotic and said I will still be in pain for about a week because she could not give me an anti-inflammatory because of the pregnancy. The pain finally subsided.

Comment from: 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: September 11

Late in the work day I started to feel a stabbing pain in my chest. The pain was not severe, but I knew something was not right. That night the pain increased. I could not sleep because every other breath was painful. The deeper the breath the more pain I felt. For a few minutes I thought I could be having a minor heart attack, but the location of the pain was at the top of my rib cage, on the right hand side, just below my chest, nowhere near my heart. Early the next morning the pain had not subsided, so I went to the hospital for treatment. The only symptom I could provide the doctor was the stabbing pain during deep breaths. He took first checked for inflamed organs then ordered chest x-rays. He found a tiny area between the two linings where fluid was built up. He decided to treat it as if it was pneumonia. I was prescribed ibuprofen, anti-biotics, and pain medicine.

Comment from: Marie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 11

I was diagnosed in the ER. I thought I was having a heart attack since the pain was on the right side of my left lung. I went through all the tests to rule out a heart attack and then $1500.00 later the doctor said it was pleurisy. He sent me home with 800 mg ibuprophen and a prescription pain medicine and told me to stay in bed for 4 days. That was about 5-6 years ago. I was 31-32 years old. I did smoke for a long time but I quite when I was 29. Since then I have had Pleurisy 4 times. The 4th time is right now. With the 2-4 time I have not been sick before getting it. It just woke me up at 4:00 a.m. this morning. I don't have health insurance so I just take 4 200mg ibuprophen 4 times a day and rest as much as possible until the pain goes away. I was told by a friend that once you have pleurisy it never goes away. It just lies dormant in your body and you have reoccurring episodes.

Comment from: Debbie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 23

I was diagnosed with pneumonia in October. After having a colonoscopy in September things started happening. I got pneumonia and then pleurisy. I was on antibiotics for 8 days then put on steroids for 5 1/2 months. I started feeling better and then was off the steroids. I developed blue fingers, now they say I have Raynaud's phenomenon. I feel lousy pain in left side in lung. I wish I knew exactly what I have. I did acupuncture for 2 treatments recently, and it does help some. I went to the emergency room as I thought I was having a heart attack. This is no fun. Heat does help.

Comment from: his4life, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: May 12

My husband had a spontaneous pneumothorax 19 years ago and when they did surgery they put a talc in the lung lining. Ever since he gets severe pleurisy pain occasionally. He is on codeine for pain which does take the edge off but not enough relief. We cannot find anyone who knows how to help him get any relief.

Comment from: that writer chick, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 23

I awoke with terrible chest pains. I was so scared I went to the E.R. They diagnosed me with pleurisy and told me it would be gone in ten days. They sent me home with Vicodin and naproxen.

Comment from: Cat, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 05

I was diagnosed with pleurisy a few days ago. The pain and is brutal. People in recovery are human just like anybody else! I could buy pain medication on the street but I am in recovery.

Comment from: Jeanne, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 12

I was so glad to read of some other people who experienced pleurisy. My mother talked about having pleurisy when I was a youngster, but really didn't know what she meant by it. I have been having weird symptoms and didn't know what was happening to me. I have pain like an inflammatory pain in my upper chest below my neck. I also had pain in my left arm and ran to the ER only to learn I wasn't having a heart attack. Thanks for the insight from others, i hope it clears it up.

Comment from: dnurse, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 07

Today I was diagnosed with Pleurisy. This morning, I woke up with extreme chest pain and thought I was having a heart attack. I could not lift my arms and it felt better to stoop forward. I went to the E.R. and was sent home with prescription of Soma. I have COPD and don't smoke anymore, but just to warn people do go check it out just in case.

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 17

I was diagnosed with pleurisy when I lived in India 18 years ago. I was told that it was due to the tuberculosis virus/bacteria and was put on an antibiotic regimen for nine months, and had to have lung X-rays done every few weeks.

Comment from: jose, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: May 20

My doctor told me that I had pleurisy, which developed after a bout with pneumonia.

Comment from: 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: April 06

I woke up one Monday morning at 04:00 feeling like I had been kicked in the ribs by a horse. For the next 24 hours I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my lower back and ribs. By Tuesday morning the pain had mostly subsided and was a dull throb. Thinking it might be a kidney stone I waited a few days for the pain to 'move on down'. But that never happened. Instead, every morning I woke up in agony which subsided after a few minutes upright and a Motrin. Then Friday morning I woke up feeling okay. I got into the shower and immediately started coughing up bloody sputum. I went to the local ER. After blood, urine, a chest x-ray, and two CT scans I was diagnosed with atypical pneumonia and pleurisy. I was prescribed azithromycin and painkillers. Coughing and pneumonia symptoms were gone within a few days but the pleurisy lingered for a week or so... and I got treatment early. Please if you experience these symptoms (sharp chest pain + chills + shortness of breath) do not delay treatment! Pleurisy is very often a sign of more serious illness. (Besides which, it hurts like the dickens!)

Comment from: Pauline, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 05

Reading the comments from others has very been interesting as I did not know that pleurisy often recurs. This is my 5th bout. The first was 34 years ago. Apart from the first time, I have always been in a 3rd world country and the local doctors have been prepared to accept my self-diagnosis. I take antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs and it goes away in a matter of days. I am also happy not to have been living in the US as the cost of treatment has been negligible.

Published: March 23

I was having a little pain & discomfort while taking deep breaths, the next day I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a car! My upper back and chest ached and produced a sharp pain when taking a deep breath, coughing, sneezing, or even just moving. I also had chills. Finally decided to go to the ER, I had an EKG, X-ray, and blood work done, to rule out pneumonia or any other infection. Turns out it was a virus in my left lung...pleurisy. I had never heard of this condition before, but it is very painful!

Comment from: momba, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 24

I'm 40, perfectly fit and healthy, no chronic illnesses, no medications I take regularly. Yesterday, after getting my kids off to daycare/school, I felt back pain between my shoulder blades - dull, like I'd been punched. It got slightly worse at work, and then hurt under my breastbone. I started having trouble breathing, so my school nurse called an ambulance. Seven hours in the ER, after EKG etc to rule out heart attack, blood work and chest X-rays. I had a chest CT scan to check for a blood clot in the lung, they diagnosed pleurisy. I have never even heard of that before! I'd had a head cold about 2 weeks ago, but was feeling better, but no other symptoms. This was a scary experience!

Comment from: Female (Patient) Published: February 18

It was last week - on Thursday I was constantly feeling tired. Then gradually I developed pain somewhere in my left rib cage - not knowing precisely from where. This grew into an excruciating pain under my shoulder blade and back. Two days later- after painful nights with fever and chills- the family doctor diagnosed pleurisy. I was given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. The day after, although I had no cold- running nose or anything - I started coughing slightly. Then came the sputum with blood stains. I had pneumonia back in end 2008. 2009 had been fairly good, although with slight cough. The harsh thing is that my mother says it leaves your lungs fragile and pleurisy is dormant- it may come back anytime.

Comment from: imstormie2, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

I currently have pleurisy. It started with a sinus infection and earache and progressed to the chest and back pain with breathing. I have had it about four times in the past 10 years, so I knew what it was. Went to the doctor on Monday and she prescribed an antibiotic and an inhaler. I am taking that and using the inhaler 2x/day plus the heating pad. Hopefully everything will clear up within the next 10 days.

Comment from: Al, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 19

Started with a head cold, which went into my lungs. I'm sure I've been through a dozen boxes of Kleenex. The muck coming out of my sinus and then my phlegm was unbelievable. I'm a non smoker, always have been. The symtoms seem to be getting better till I awoke this morning with what feels like a pulled muscle under my shoulder blade. The pain radiated down my arm. Uh oh! Off to the doctor. Pleurisy. I was prescribed a medication that was $72 for 10 pills. Ouch! I don't know which pain was worse!

Comment from: Terrie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 09

I began with sharp stabbing pain in the lower part of my shoulder blade a couple of nights ago. I had also developed a slight congestion. I took ibuprofen and slept for about couple of hours then I woke up with the sharp stabbing pain in the middle of my back on the left-hand side. The next morning, I went to the doctor, and he listened to my lungs and said they were clear. He sent me home saying I had shingles, but I didn't have any blisters or indication of skin discoloration. He said he didn't want to prescribe anything until he could confirm it was shingles, and call him the next morning to report. Again that evening I took more ibuprofen before going to bed and was able to sleep for a couple of hours and then woke up to terrible sharp and burning pain. This never occurred in my chest and it didn't hurt to breathe. I called the doctor the next day and said I still didn't have any blisters, but the pain was still there. He prescribed valacyclovir and pain medication. I took one dose of valacyclovir and pain medication that day before going to bed and slept all night. I called the doctor the next day and reported that still didn't have blisters and pain and subsided. Now he thinks it was a touch of pleurisy.

Comment from: Jamie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 05

I currently am having a bout of pleurisy. I know because I've had it before. The first time I got it was when I was in the fifth grade. I am now 47 years old and have had it probably twice since. I don't have any health insurance so I am trying to deal with it. It does help to lie on the side where the pain is and to take it easy. But if the pain gets like it has in the past I will have to go the doctor and get something. I am hoping that it will just go away on its own.

Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 29

I woke up two nights ago with a stabbing pain on the top of my rib cage that radiated into my left shoulder. I went back to sleep but the pain kept coming and by the next afternoon I decided to get it checked out just in case. It really hurt when I took a deep breath. The ER did an EKG, blood tests and a chest X-ray and decided it was pleurisy and sent me home and told me to take 400mg of Ibuprofen every 6 hours. They didn't have an answer as to why I had it and said it would go away in about a week. We'll see!

Comment from: v, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 08

Like all of the stories I've read I too am experiencing sharp stabbing pains when I breathe and feel it in my shoulder. It really hurts! I've had pleurisy every winter for the past 10 yrs. I go to the clinic where it's documented and begin to explain I know for a fact I have pleurisy I know what it feels like. The doctor gives me Tylenol and sends me on my way. I'm so pissed off and in pain. I'm a nursing student so it ticks me off more to know doctors are treating people like this. I hope I never work with him! FYI been reading up on pleurisy says that you may have an underlying disease that causes pleurisy to re-occur such has diabetes, lupus heart disease. I urge u people to stay on top of these uneducated doctors and take care I feel your pain.

Comment from: Josey, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 19

During an office exam, my doctor heard the noise that he described as "two pieces of leather rubbing against each other" as pleurisy. He said that only 1 in 10 people with pleurisy have this "noise" and it was fortunate that I did as it helped support his diagnosis.

Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 11

I just got back from the ER to find out I have pleurisy. I thought it was panic/anxiety attacks for the last 4 weeks, so I took my Xanax, normally one would make the pain stop. Last night, the Xanax wouldn't work and I couldn't breathe, walk, or sit. It was off to the ER for 6 hours of, Chest X-rays, an EKG, and every blood test known to man. The doctor came back to say I have Pleurisy. I was prescribed 800mg Ibuprofen and another pain medicine. The doctor told me it will take a week to feel better and to just take it easy.

Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 06

I had a bad cough which I thought was left over from a lung infection 2 weeks previously. Then I started getting this stabbing pain in the right hand side of my chest. I assumed it was pulled muscles from the cough. Then the pain escalated until I was almost in tears. I couldn't move without excruciating pain in my chest. My doctor was away and I didn't want to go to the hospital to sit for hours. I had some Tylenol #2's left over from some previous affliction and took those along with Motrin and ice packs. I slept sitting up in a lazy boy. Still figuring it was muscle related I went to my chiropractor. He thought it might be associated with my ribs. He did a body massage with a machine which helps for a few hours. I was still in massive pain. I asked him if I could have a lung infection and he said it was certainly possible. I finally went to my Doctor and it took him a couple of minutes to diagnose pleurisy. That was a week later and way too much pain.

REFERENCE:

Boka, K, MD. "Pleural Effusion." Medscape. Updated: Jul 21, 2017.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/299959-overview>

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