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How do you recognize the symptoms of pleurisy?

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Quick Answer

The main symptom of pleurisy is a sudden onset of chest pain accompanied by breathing difficulty. Sufferers of pleurisy frequently describe the sensation as stabbing, and it generally occurs on only one side of the chest. Holding one's breath or pushing on the area that hurts can ease the symptoms, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

The chest pain in pleurisy may reach up to a shoulder or down to the belly. Sudden movements, sneezing and coughing all tend to worsen the pain, as stated by WebMD.

Pleurisy is inflammation of the tissue layers that cover the chest wall and lungs. The gap between the lungs and the chest wall is the pleural cavity, which generally has some fluid to let the layers slide over one another during breathing. Inflammation of this tissue makes the layers come into contact, causing pain, notes WebMD.

Possible causes of pleurisy include lower respiratory infection via bacteria or virus, chest injury, tuberculosis, a hole formed in a lung, and a tumor located in the chest wall or lung tissue, according to WebMd. Pancreatitis, pulmonary embolism, sickle cell crisis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can all cause pleurisy as well. Pleurisy typically lasts no longer than two weeks, and it is only contagious in extremely rare cases.

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