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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.

The Lungs


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

A pulse oximeter

is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.


  • Blood tests may show if you have an infection, or give information about your overall health.
  • A chest x-ray is used to look for swelling or extra fluid in and around your lungs.
  • An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of your lungs on a monitor. This test is used to look for extra fluid between your pleura.
  • A CT scan is used to take pictures of your lungs. You may be given contrast liquid to help your healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


is a procedure to remove extra fluid out of your pleural space. You are given numbing medicine before a needle is put between two of your ribs. The needle is then put through to your pleura. The fluid is sucked out through the needle. You may breathe easier when the fluid is removed. The fluid may be sent to the lab for tests.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • Antibiotics may treat pleurisy caused by bacteria.
  • Steroids may be given to decrease inflammation.
  • Cough medicine helps decrease your urge to cough. A cough suppressant may help if a dry cough is causing you pain.
  • 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 if other pain medicines do not work. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


Extra fluid can collect in the pleural space. This is called a pleural effusion. A pleural effusion can cause increased trouble breathing, cough, and fever. Your lung may collapse from shallow breathing. You will need to hospitalized so that the extra fluid can be treated.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.

Learn more about Pleurisy (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

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