The definition of pleurisy is an inflammation of the membranes around your lungs. Doctors can easily mistake the symptoms of mesothelioma for the symptoms of pleurisy, so it's important to confirm that your doctor is giving you a definite diagnosis of pleurisy and not mis-diagnosing pleurisy when in fact its mesothelioma.
What is pleurisy?
Pleurisy is a condition associated with chest pain. You feel pain because the lining of your chest wall has become inflamed. The lining (pleura) is a double tissue layer that covers your lungs and the inside of your chest. To get an accurate pleurisy diagnosis, your doctor may perform some tests and will listen for a rubbing sound when checking your lungs with a stethoscope.
Pleurisy symptoms can range across a broad spectrum—not unlike the symptoms of mesothelioma:
- Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
- Chest pain while you breathe
- Cough, especially a dry one
- Fever and/or chills
Pleurisy symptoms might include feeling sharp, fleeting pains in your chest, and those pains may feel worse when you cough, sneeze, move around, and breathe deeply. Sometimes you might feel pain all the way from your chest to your shoulder. Holding your breath or pressing on the sore areas might relieve the pain of Pleurisy.
As with mesothelioma, pleurisy can cause fluids to accumulate (pleural effusion) around your lungs. But when this happens with pleurisy, the pain often goes away because the fluid lubricates your tissues. But then, when large quantities of fluid have collected, your lungs get compressed and can make it hard to breathe easily. If an infection develops in the fluid, you may start to develop other symptoms—like the dry cough, fever and chills. A pleural effusion—fluid in the lungs—that gets infected is called an empyema.
If you have what feels like pleurisy symptoms and you know you've been exposed to asbestos at some time, be sure to find a physician who is also experienced in diagnosing asbestos-related diseases, understands the role of asbestos exposure, and is willing to look closely for the distinguishing characteristics for a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Treatment for pleurisy
What led to your Pleurisy diagnosis may mean your doctor will handle your treatment for pleurisy somewhat differently. An injury to the chest, for example, or a collapsed lung will require other interventions besides just treating the inflammation of the pleura.
Depending on pleurisy causes, your doctor may treat the pain and inflammation with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, narcotics, naproxen, steroids, or a combination. You may be given an inhaled medication of some type to help you breathe easier. You may receive an antibiotic if your doctor suspects a bacterial infection. Other medicines or procedures may also be recommended depending on the causes of pleurisy.