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Pleurisy treatment varies, depending on what is causing the pleurisy. For example, pneumonia can result in pleurisy, for which the treatment would involve antibiotics. Other types of pleurisy treatment may include codeine to mitigate painful coughing or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve discomfort in the chest. If a great deal of fluid is present in the chest, then a surgical procedure might be required to drain the fluid.
Treating pleurisy must take into account and address the root cause of the condition. Pleurisy can arise because of pneumonia, viral or bacterial infections, or injury to the chest or ribs. Other serious medical conditions may also give rise to pleurisy. The primary pleurisy symptom is chest discomfort, which intensifies when a patient breathes deeply or coughs. Pleurisy occurs when the pleura, the membrane that protects the lungs and separates them from other structures in the chest cavity, becomes inflamed and swollen. Another symptom of pleurisy is pleural effusion, in which fluid accumulates in the pleural cavity, the area between the pleura and the chest wall.
When a patient complains of pleurisy symptoms, a doctor might perform a chest x-ray or an ultrasound to see whether excess fluid is present. A tiny amount of fluid in the pleural cavity is normal, but anything exceeding that small amount indicates a medical problem. Thoracentesis is a diagnostic procedure in which fluid is removed from between the chest wall and the pleura. The fluid is then checked by a medical professional to see whether infection is present. These procedures can help doctors diagnose what is causing the pleurisy so that the best pleurisy treatment may be recommended for a patient's individual case.
Pleurisy that is caused by viral infection sometimes goes away on its own. In that case, pleurisy treatment would consist of pain control through use of NSAIDS, available either by prescription or over the counter, or codeine, available only by prescription, for cough management. Pleurisy that is caused by bacterial infection must be treated with antibiotics.
Pleural effusion may necessitate that a patient undergo surgery at a hospital. Surgical pleurisy treatment consists of the surgeon placing a tube into the patient's chest to drain fluid from his or her pleural cavity. Once the drainage is accomplished, the root cause of the pleurisy must be treated. Pleurisy is sometimes a symptom of a serious medical condition such as congestive heart failure, cancer or pulmonary embolism. Any chest pain should be discussed as soon as possible with a medical professional.
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