Pleurisy Center

Pleurisy Symptoms

Symptoms of pleurisy
The main symptom of pleurisy is a sharp or stabbing pain in the chest that gets worse when you breathe in deeply, cough or sneeze. The pain may stay in one place or it may spread to the shoulder or back. Sometimes pain associated with pleurisy becomes a fairly constant dull ache. Depending on the exact cause pleurisy, you may also experience:

  • chest pain lying down that is relieved when you get up
  • chills
  • dry coughing
  • fever
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • pain during movement of the chest (breathing, coughing)
  • rapid and shallow breathing
  • rapid pulse
  • sharp, stabbing pain towards the side and lower part of the chest
  • weakness

Symptoms of other pleura disorders

Pleural effusion - Pleural effusion is often asymptomatic (manifests no symptoms).

Pneumothorax - The symptoms of pneumothorax include:

  • a bluish color of the skin
  • anxiety
  • chest tightness
  • easy fatigue
  • flaring of the nostrils
  • hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • rapid heart rate
  • shortness of breath
  • stress
  • sudden, sharp chest pain that gets worse when you breathe in deeply or cough

Hemothorax - The symptoms of hemothorax are often similar to those of pneumothorax. They include: 

  • anxiety
  • chest pain
  • rapid heart rate
  • respiratory failure
  • restlessness
  • shortness of breath

Most often, pleurisy develops as a complication of other medical conditions (pneumonia, lung cancer, lupus, etc.). However, pleurisy can be chronic and reoccur a number of times, with varying levels of severity. Complications that can develop as a result of untreated pleurisy include:

  • collapsed lung
  • difficulty breathing
  • original illness complications

When to seek help
The sooner you seek medical care for a case of pleurisy, the more favourable the outcome. Call your doctors if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of pleurisy. Be aware that these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions...or may indicate an underlying illness for which you need prompt medical care. In particular, if you are experiencing severe chest pains that go away when they hold their breath or are associated with a fever may want to see a doctor to diagnose possible pleurisy and any underlying health problems. So call your doctor for an office visit and diagnosis if you experience any of the following:

  • high fever
  • intense, persistent chest pain
  • severe chest pains that stop when you hold your breath
  • shortness of breath

Seek immediate medical attention if you have difficulty breathing, your skin turns blue, you experience any form of severe or persistent chest pain or any difficulty breathing. Chest pain can be a symptom of many different disorders, some of which are potentially life threatening. Seek immediate medical help if you notice:

  • blue skin
  • difficulty breathing
  • severe, persistent chest pain

If you notice that you are experiencing symptoms that may indicate pleurisy, see your doctor. The sooner that you see your doctor, then the sooner you can begin treatment. Also, by seeing your doctor, you’ll be able to determine if you have pleurisy or another condition. For information on how doctors diagnose this pleura disorder of the lungs, keep reading.  Doctors use diagnostic to let you know is pleurisy serious.

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