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What is the treatment for pleurisy?

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Quick Answer

Pleurisy is generally treated through the use of medication, according to WebMD. Specific treatment varies on a case-by-case basis and largely depends on the cause of the pleurisy. In some cases, a biopsy is necessary to determine the best approach to treatment.

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Full Answer

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the double-layered, moist membrane surrounding the rib cage and lungs called the pleuria, explains WebMD. Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, can cause breathing to be very painful, making treatment essential. In some cases, pleurisy can lead to pleural effusion, a condition in which liquid fills the space between the inflamed membrane.

Pleurisy has numerous causes, the most common of which is viral infection, according to WebMD. Other causes include lung infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, liver diseases and pulmonary embolism. Chest injuries and drug reactions can also result in pleurisy, although these are less likely causes.

When pleurisy is caused by an infection, most doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat the virus, states WebMD. In addition to antibiotics, many doctors also prescribe anti-inflammatories or other pain medications to reduce associated pain. In some cases, cough syrup may help with coughing or breathing complications. If other diseases are causing pleurisy, treatment for the underlying cause may be required to eliminate symptoms. Should pleural effusion develop, a doctor may choose to drain the liquid through a tube in the chest, a process that requires a hospital stay.

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