Usually the first sign of pleurisy is a distinctive chest pain that starts suddenly. The pain can vary from vague discomfort to an intense stabbing pain. Sometimes it is felt only while breathing deeply or coughing, or it can cause continuous pain that gets worse with deep breathing or coughing. Usually the pain is felt in the chest wall over the location of the inflammation, but it may also be felt in the upper abdominal area or in the neck and shoulder or in a combination of these areas.
Because inhaling deeply hurts, a person with pleurisy tends to breathe rapidly and shallowly. On the side where the pain is, the muscles of the chest move less than those on the other side. If fluid builds up between the layers of the pleura, the chest pain may go away. Large quantities of fluid can make expanding one or both lungs difficult
Causes and Risk Factors
Irritation of the pleura can be cause by:
- A virus
- Inhaling asbestos
- The use of certain drugs, such as nitrofurantoin
- Some types of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus