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The pleura is the membrane that lines the thoracic (chest) cavity and covers the lungs. It is like a large sheet of tissue that wraps around the outside of the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity. There are several types of pleural diseases, including:

  • Pleurisy - an infection of the pleural cavity
  • Pleural effusion - the buildup of pleural fluid in the pleural cavity
  • Pneumothorax - the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity
  • Hemothorax - the presence of blood in the pleural cavity
  • Pleural tumors

What are the Symptoms of Pleural Diseases?

Symptoms of pleurisy may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A cough
  • Fever and chills
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sore throat that is followed by joint swelling and soreness

Pleural Effusion

  • Typically, pleural effusion causes no symptoms.

Symptoms of pneumothorax include:

  • Sudden sharp pain that worsens with deep breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Fast heart rate
  • Bluish skin color (called cyanosis)

Symptoms of hemothorax may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory failure
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness

Symptoms of pleural tumors may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • General discomfort
  • Cough
  • Unexplained weight loss

Causes of Pleural Diseases

Causes of pleurisy include:

  • Viral, bacterial, and fungal infections
  • Lung cancer
  • Other lung diseases, such as sarcoidosis, asbestosis, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, and mesothelioma
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Familial Mediterranean fever
  • Parasites
  • Heart surgery
  • Chest injury (trauma)
  • Reaction to certain medications

Causes of pleural effusion include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Lung cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis, asbestosis, sarcoidosis, and reactions to medications
  • Bulla, which is a large distended air space
  • Lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Chest trauma
  • Lung and pleural cancer
  • Chest or heart surgery

Causes of pneumothorax may include:

Causes of hemothorax include:

For some pleural tumors, the cause is unknown. Known causes of pleural tumors may include cancer that has spread to the pleural space.