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Pleurisy is an inflammatory condition of the membranes that surround the lungs.
The defining symptom of this condition is sharp chest pain while breathing. The pain usually feels worse with deep breathing, coughing, sneezing, or laughing. The pain may spread to shoulders and back. In addition to this, symptoms such as shortness of breath, sore throat, cough, fever or weight loss may also be present.
Pleurisy is usually caused by viral infection. In other cases, it can be a co-morbidity occurring with other diseases such as pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, autoimmune disorders, lung cancer pancreatitis, chest trauma, air leaking into the pleural cavity from a hole in a lung (pneumothorax). Pleurisy can also be contracted following heart surgery. The condition usually lasts a few days to 2 weeks.
Diagnostic tests include physical examination, chest x-ray, blood test, electrocardiography (ECG), ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, arterial blood gas, thoracentesis and biopsy.
Treatment of pleurisy aims at providing relief of symptoms, removal of the fluid, air, or blood from the pleural space and treatment of the underlying condition.
Surgical procedures can be used to drain fluid, air, or blood from the pleural spaces. Medications such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) or anti-inflammatory agents are used to control pain and decrease inflammation.