SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The signs and symptoms of pleurisy may include:
- Chest pain when you inhale and exhale (between breaths, you feel almost no pain)
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- Fever and chills, depending on the cause
- Loss of appetite, depending on the cause
The sharp, fleeting pain in your chest that pleurisy causes is made worse by coughing, sneezing, moving and breathing, especially deep breathing. In some cases, pain may extend from your chest to your shoulder. You may find relief from pain when you hold your breath or when you apply pressure over the painful area.
When an accumulation of fluids (pleural effusion) is associated with pleurisy, the pain usually disappears because the fluid serves as a lubricant. However, if enough fluid accumulates, it puts pressure on your lungs, compressing and interfering with their normal function, causing shortness of breath. If the fluid becomes infected, the signs and symptoms of dry cough, fever and chills may appear. An infected pleural effusion is called an empyema.
When to see a doctor
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Unexplained, intense chest pain, especially that comes on suddenly
- Shortness of breath
- High fever
These signs and symptoms point to a problem with your lungs or pleura if the pain occurs with respiration, but may also indicate an underlying illness for which you need prompt medical care.
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- Rosenow EC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 3, 2011.