Pleurisy

Description: An inflammation of the pleura, which is the moist, double-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the rib cage. Also known as pleuritis.

Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes.

Organ or part of body involved: Pleura

Symptoms and indications: Severe chest pain that starts suddenly. The pain is often strong or stabbing when you take a deep breath. It usually subsides or disappears between breaths. It's usually felt on one side of the stomach area or lower chest. Deep breathing and coughing often make it worse. You may also have a fever, pain when moving, or fast, shallow breathing. Typically, you will be able to point to the exact location of the pain. In some people, the pain spreads to the neck, shoulder, or abdomen.

Causes and risk factors: Viral infection is probably the most common cause of pleurisy. Other diseases that can cause pleurisy are lung infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, and other diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, liver and kidney disease, heart failure and pulmonary embolism. Other causes include chest injuries and drug reactions.

Prevention: Prevention of pleurisy is often focused toward staying healthy. Proper control of illnesses known to cause pleurisy is also important. Prevention of tobacco smoking is one important way to ensure healthy lungs.

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