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Pleural Effusion

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Pleural effusion is fluid buildup in the space between the layers of the pleura. The pleura is a thin piece of tissue with 2 layers. One layer rests directly on the lungs. The other rests on the chest wall. There is normally a small amount of fluid between these layers. This fluid helps your lungs move easily when you breathe.

The Lungs

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You feel faint, or you cannot think clearly.
  • Your lips or fingernails turn blue.
  • You find it very hard to breathe.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your breathing problems do not go away or get worse.
  • Your pain does not go away or gets worse.
  • You cough up yellow, green, gray, or bloody mucus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Diuretics may help decrease extra fluid caused by heart failure or other problems.
  • Antibiotics help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Steroids or other types of medicines may be given to decrease swelling.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Self-care:

  • Use pressure to prevent pain. Hold a pillow against your chest when you cough or take a deep breath.
  • Do not smoke , and do not allow others to smoke around you. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases your risk for lung infections such as pneumonia. Smoking also makes it harder for you to get better after having a lung problem. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
  • Drink liquids as directed and rest as needed. Liquids help to keep your air passages moist and better able to get rid of germs and other irritants. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may feel like resting more. Slowly start to do more each day. Rest when you feel it is needed.
  • Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath. Then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
    How to use and Incentive Spirometer

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Pleural Effusion (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

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