A pleurisy can occur as a result of various diseases and is not contagious. One differentiates the dry and the moist pleurisy, which are characterized by different symptoms. If such inflammation is not treated in time, pus may form and surgery may be necessary. Read all about signs, course and treatment of pleurisy here.
What is a pleurisy?
The pleura - the pleura - is a fine skin that surrounds the lungs (lung pelvis) and lines the ribcage (pleura). In between there is a small gap filled with little fluid (pleural space). The fluid ensures that the lung and the pleura can easily pass each other while inhaling and exhaling.
In pleurisy (pleurisy), which may occur regardless of age, these two protective skins are inflamed.
Possible causes of pleurisy
The pleurisy is not contagious and usually occurs as a consequence of disease. As a basic disease, the following diseases come into question:
- pneumonia with passage of pathogens to the pleura
- an acute bronchitis
- lung cancer
- a pulmonary embolism
- Diseases of adjacent organs in the abdomen and pelvis (for example, pyelonephritis).
Also pathogens - often bacteria, only rarely viruses - that come from distant sources of inflammation, may be the cause of pleurisy.
Symptoms of dry pleurisy
The diagnosis of pleurisy can be based on the symptoms, the lungs, X-ray and ultrasound examinations and the blood test for inflammatory parameters. There are two types of pleurisy: dry and wet pleurisy.
Dry pleurisy is characterized by symptoms such as heavy chest pain when breathing and dry cough. When listening to breath-dependent rattling, creaking sounds are heard. They arise because the pleura and the lung fur rub against each other.
In dry pleurisy, the patient takes a restraint, which can serve as a first visible sign in the diagnosis. In contrast, fever usually does not occur. It is different with a moist pleurisy.
Symptoms of a moist pleurisy
Dry pleurisy often results in a wet and fevery pleurisy. Often a pleural effusion then occurs. This means that more fluid gets between the ribs and the lungs.
Thanks to this liquid the strong pain disappears. However, depending on the size of the pleural effusion, a feeling of pressure in the chest and shortness of breath appear. Occasionally sufferers also complain of shoulder pain, because the pleural effusion irritates the phrenic nerve.
Complications of pleurisy
If a pleural effusion is present, it is punctured to reduce pressure and to examine the fluid for any pathogen or tumor cells. Namely germs can migrate into the effusion, which soon forms pus. As a result of purulent pleurisy can then turn a pseudo-inflammation arise.
Because breathing is often shallow in painful pleurisy, inflamed parts of the pelvic skin are immobile for a long time and can fused together, especially in a purulent pleurisy. Rib and lung fur then form rinds, which are known as Pleuraschwielen or Pleuraschwarten. The lungs connect firmly to the chest and can therefore no longer develop freely when breathing.
Treatment of pleurisy: what to do?
The course, duration and prognosis of pleurisy depend on the nature of the underlying disease. If a pleurisy is treated in time, it heals mostly uncomplicated. The focus of treatment is the primary disease that has triggered the pleurisy.
However, if there is a dry pleurisy, it should be accompanied by pain therapy. Since sufferers only breathe less due to pain, accompanying breathing exercises may be useful. We also recommend light meals and consistent bed rest. Homeopathy also offers two remedies for uncomplicated pleurisy treatment: Bryonia and Cantharis in potencies from D6 to D12.
Suitable home remedies include warm chest wraps or hayflower therapy. The hay flowers should come from the pharmacy and be placed in the form of a moist hot haystack for about 30 to 40 minutes as a compress. For larger effusions, a puncture should be done. If there is a bacterial infection, it is probably necessary to take an antibiotic.
Treatment of advanced pleurisy
If pus has formed in the pleural cavity during moist pleurisy, the purulent fluid should be drained by means of a chest drain. Through this drainage (drainage), the purulent pleural cavity is also flushable.
If the disease is already too advanced, complete emptying of the purulent fluid is no longer possible without surgery. The operation may be either the keyhole procedure or an open surgery. In addition, purulent inflammatory deposits of the lung and pleura should also be removed.
Schwarten as a result of the coalescence of lung and pleura are characteristic of the last stage of pleurisy. It is advisable to prevent any formation of rinds by premature surgery in the first three to four weeks after the onset of the disease. If rinds have to be surgically removed afterwards, it is not always possible to completely restore the capacity of the lungs.