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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Pleurisy happens when the pleura becomes irritated or swollen. The pleura is a thin piece of tissue made of 2 layers. One layer lines the inside of your chest cavity, and the other surrounds your lungs. There is a small amount of fluid between the layers that helps them move easily when you breathe. When the pleura is irritated or swollen, the layers rub together as you breathe.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have sudden, intense chest pain that feels different from your symptoms.
- You are breathing fast, feel confused, or feel like you are going to faint.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have a fever.
- You have shortness of breath.
- Your lips or fingernails turn dusky or blue.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your pain gets worse, even after treatment.
- You begin to cough up yellow, green, gray, or bloody mucus.
- Your wound has redness, warmth, or drainage.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Cough medicine helps decrease your urge to cough. A cough suppressant may help if a dry cough is causing you pain.
- Antibiotics are used if your pleurisy is caused by bacteria.
- Steroids may be given to decrease inflammation.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and 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 if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
- 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.
- 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.
- Find a comfortable position. You will need to rest to let your body heal. Find a position that allows you to decrease pain and breathe easier. You may find it comfortable to lie on the side that has the pleurisy. Change your position often to prevent complications, such as worsening pneumonia or a lung collapse.
- Use pressure to prevent pain. Hold a pillow against your chest when you cough or take a deep breath.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Get early treatment for conditions that cause pleurisy.
- Ask about vaccines. Ask your healthcare provider if you should get a flu or pneumonia vaccine. These vaccines may prevent infections that cause pleurisy. The flu vaccine is given every year. The pneumonia vaccine is usually given every 5 years.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.
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