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Inflammation of the pleura, which develops due to the accumulation of water in the lungs for various reasons, is a condition that causes many diseases and needs prompt treatment. Inflammation of the pleura, also called pleurisy, is known in the medical world as pleural effusion. So what are the causes and consequences of lung membrane inflammation?

What is Pleura Inflammation?

The pleura is a structure made up of membranes surrounding the chest cavity and located on the outside of the lung. The area between the two membrane structures is called the pleural space.

The pleural cavity, filled with a slippery fluid secreted from the pleural membrane, allows the lung to move freely during respiration. The amount of this fluid is approximately 20 ml in a healthy individual. According to this system, the pleural cavity liquid helps the lung function generally during breathing.

Depending on various reasons, there may be an increase in the fluid between the membranes or abnormalities in fluid absorption. As a result, more fluid is filled into the pleural cavity than it should be.

This event is also known as pleurisy or pleural effusion in the medical language.

Causes of Pleural Inflammation

Many different factors predispose the formation of pleurisy. Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of inflammation in the lung membranes. In TB patients, the pleural cavity accumulates more fluid than usual, and this can cause inflammation.

In addition, lung cancer is a significant risk factor for inflammation. Lung cancer can cause the weakening of the pleura by being affected by cancerous cells and, therefore, an increase in fluid in the pleural cavity. As a result, lung cancer is considered the leading cause of most lung inflammations.

Infections, respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, inhalation of asbestos, and similar harmful substances can also cause inflammation of the membrane as it weakens the lung. In addition, the following conditions are among the causes of inflammation of the pleura:

  • Pulmonary edema
  • Heart failure
  • Pulmonary hypertension (high pressure in the pulmonary artery)
  • Atelectasis (incomplete collapse of the lung during breathing)
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Rib fractures
  • Fungal infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Complications after heart surgery
  • Lymphoma
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pancreatic inflammation
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Systemic lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Trauma
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Adverse effects of drugs

Symptoms of Pleural Inflammation

Inflammation of the pleura presents with symptoms that occur in most chest diseases. Difficulty breathing, especially cough and chest pain, is one of the main symptoms. Other causes such as shortness of breath, weakness, loss of appetite, fever, sweating, chills, and shivering that prevent sleeping on your back are among the common symptoms.

In the early period of the disease, the severity of the symptoms is also low. During this period, patients can hear a squeaking sound during deep breathing. The progression of the disease causes these symptoms to become more serious. The squeaky sound that appears at first turns into a jarring and severe cough over time.

During coughing, the patient feels a stabbing pain in the back that affects the shoulder and abdomen. The severity and form of all these symptoms differ from patient to patient.

Pleural Inflammation Risk Factors

Inflammation of the pleura is a disease that can develop in anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, and region. However, some factors can increase the risk of developing the disease by lowering the body's resistance.

For this reason, paying attention to some risk factors and taking the necessary precautions to prevent the disease is required. According to studies, we can say that inflammation of the pleura occurs more frequently in the following groups:

  • Smokers: Smoking is a stress factor that lowers the body's resistance and causes cell damage. In addition, it can cause problems in respiratory functions and the lungs. The risk of developing inflammation in the respiratory tract is higher in smokers.
  • Pregnancy: The immune system is weak due to stress and hormonal changes, causing mild illnesses such as colds to occur more quickly and recover late
  • Immune-suppressed patients: Regular use of some drugs, past diseases, and bad living habits cause the weakening of the immune system. The suppressed immune system in individuals exposed to such situations cannot adequately protect the body and makes the body vulnerable to lung diseases. Especially in individuals over 65 and infants aged 0-2 years, lung diseases may develop due to weakness in the immune system.
  • Occupational and Environmental Factors: Environment and occupation also influence developing lung diseases. The risk of lung complications in individuals who constantly breathe dust, smoke, and harmful chemicals is much higher than in individuals with healthy environmental conditions. Polluted air conditions and occupational exposure can cause inflammation of the lungs

Depending on all these, taking environmental precautions and quitting harmful habits reduce the risk of developing the disease. In addition, detecting the condition with the first symptoms is of great importance in recovery.

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