Pleurisy typically causes a sharp chest pain (pleuritic chest pain) that worsens with breathing in or coughing. The pain may start and remain in one specific area of the chest wall, or it may spread to the shoulder or back. To ease chest pain from pleurisy, a person with pleurisy often lies on the affected side as a way of limiting movement of the chest wall. In rare cases, the chest pain of pleurisy is a fairly constant, dull ache.
Depending on the specific cause of pleurisy, other symptoms may be present. For example, a person with pneumonia may have a high fever, shortness of breath and a cough that produces thick, yellow or dark sputum (mucus). A pulmonary embolus may be associated with shortness of breath, a low-grade fever and a cough that brings up small amounts of blood. A person with lung cancer may have unexplained weight loss and cough and a strong history of smoking. People with rheumatic fever may have pain and swelling in several joints that follow a sore throat.
Page 2 of 9 Next Page: Pleurisy And Pleural Effusion Diagnosis
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.
You can find more great health information on the Harvard Health Publications website.