What causes pleurisy?


Quick Answer

Pleurisy is most commonly caused by viral infections; other causes of pleurisy include bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis, chest wounds, rib fractures, trauma to the chest wall, tumors of the lung or chest and blood clots in the arteries of the lungs, according to HealthLine. Immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can cause pleurisy as can sickle cell anemia, pancreatitis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, lymphoma, parasitic or fungal infections and complications from heart surgery.

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Full Answer

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the tissue of the lungs that is sometimes referred to as "pleuritis." When the tissue of the lungs is infected or inflamed, it takes on a gritty texture and becomes extremely painful. Notably, it was pleurisy that caused the death of historical figures Benjamin Franklin and Catherine de Medici.

Although uncommon today due to advances in antibiotics, pleurisy is characterized by a sharp cutting pain that is worsened by breathing in or out and that is alleviated by putting pressure on the area of pain. The pain is also worsened when moving, coughing or sneezing and is accompanied by chills, loss of appetite and fever. Other symptoms may include joint pain, headaches, pain in the back and shoulders and pain that is located to the side of the chest.

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