Pleurisy (pleuritis)

Pleurisy is mostly caused by pneumonia.


Pleurisy is mostly caused by pneumonia. The inflammation spreads from the surface of the lungs to the tissue between the lungs and the ribcage (pleura). Pain when breathing in and out is typical, sometimes patients are short of breath. This disease should be treated by a doctor.


These symptoms can disappear over time if the inflammation fluid gathers in the area between the ribs and the lungs.

Causes and treatment


  • Pleurisy usually occurs during or after a pneumonia attack
    Infrequent causes
  • Lung infarction (lung embolism)
  • Cancer (e.g. lung cancer)
  • Autoimmune disorder

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Listening to the lungs (stethoscope)
  • Blood tests
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Treatment of the cause (e.g. antibiotics for pneumonia)
  • Painkillers
  • Physiotherapy (special breathing exercises)
  • Small operation (insertion of a sterile needle to drain the fluid

What can I do myself?

  • Rest your body
  • Exercise and a balanced diet strengthen the immune system and can help prevent infections

When to see a doctor?

  • Persistent shooting chest pains that get worse when inhaling/exhaling and coughing
  • Persistent shortness of breath


pleurisy, pleuritis

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.