George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
In this Article
- Pleurisy facts
- What is pleurisy?
- What causes pleurisy?
- How does the pleura work?
- What are the symptoms of pleurisy?
- How is pleurisy diagnosed?
- How is pleurisy treated?
- Can pleurisy be prevented?
- Find a local Pulmonologist in your town
How does the pleura work?
The pleura is composed of two layers of thin lining tissue. The layer covering the lung (visceral pleura) and the parietal pleura that covers the inner wall of the chest are lubricated by pleural fluid. Normally, there is about 10-20 ml of clear liquid that acts as a lubricant between these layers. The fluid is continually absorbed and replaced, mainly through the outer lining of the pleura. Pressure inside the pleura is negative (as in sucking) and becomes even more negative during inspiration (breathing in). The pressure becomes less negative during exhalation (breathing out). Therefore, the space between the two layers of pleura always has a negative pressure. The introduction of air (positive pressure) into the space (such as from a knife wound) will result in a collapse of the lung.
What are the symptoms of pleurisy?
Symptoms of pleurisy include:
- pain in the chest that is aggravated by breathing,
- shortness of breath, and/or
- a "stabbing" sensation.
The most common symptom of pleurisy is pain that is generally aggravated by inspiration (breathing in). Although the lungs themselves do not contain any pain nerves, the pleura contains abundant nerve endings. When extra fluid accumulates in the space between the layers of pleura, the pain usually is a less severe form of pleurisy. With very large amounts of fluid accumulation, the expansion of the lungs can be limited, and shortness of breath can worsen.
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