The signs and symptoms of pleurisy might include:
- Chest pain that worsens when you breathe, cough or sneeze
- Shortness of breath — because you are trying to minimize breathing in and out
- A cough — only in some cases
- A fever — only in some cases
Pain caused by pleurisy also might affect your shoulder or back.
In some cases of pleurisy, fluid builds up in the small space between the two layers of tissue (pleural space). This is called pleural effusion. When there is a fair amount of fluid, pleuritic pain lessens or disappears because the two layers of pleura are no longer in contact. A large amount of fluid in the pleural space can create pressure, compressing your lung to the point that it partially or completely collapses. This makes breathing difficult and might cause you to cough. The extra fluid can also become infected. This is called an empyema. An empyema is often accompanied by fever.
When to see a doctor
Call your doctor right away if you experience unexplained, intense chest pain during breathing.
You might have a problem with your lungs, heart or pleura or an underlying illness for which you need prompt medical care.
Jan. 02, 2014
- What are pleurisy and other pleural disorders? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/pleurisy/pleurisy_whatare.html. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- Mason RJ, et al. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- Patient information: Pleuritic chest pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
- Lee YCG. Diagnostic evaluation of pleural effusion in adults: Additional tests for undetermined etiology. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
- Rosenow EC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 7, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.