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Pleurisy - pleuritis
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Pleurisy - pleuritis

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ASTHMA & RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Respiratory System

Pleurisy occurs when the double membrane (pleura) that lines the chest cavity and surrounds each of your lungs becomes inflamed. The condition, also called pleuritis, typically causes sharp pain, almost always during the act of breathing.

One layer of the pleura, which is just a few cells thick, overlies each lung. The other layer lines the inner chest wall. When you breathe in, the large muscle separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity (diaphragm) contracts and your chest wall expands, causing your lungs to expand. The two layers of pleura are like two pieces of smooth satin rubbing against each other with almost no friction, allowing your lungs to expand and contract without any resistance from the lining of the chest wall.

Causes

The underlying medical conditions that can cause pleurisy are numerous. They include:

  • An acute viral infection, such as the flu (influenza)

  • Pneumonia, in those cases in which the infected portion of the lung involves the pleural surface of the lung

  • Autoimmune conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune hepatitis

  • Tuberculosis and other infections

  • A clot in an artery of your lungs (pulmonary embolism)

  • Pancreatitis

Pleurisy can also occur as a result of trauma to your chest or after heart surgery. In some cases, the cause is unknown (idiopathic).

Pleurisy > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:51 AM