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Pleural Effusion - Everything You Must Know About It!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD - Respiratory Medicine , Trained In Treating Sleep Disorder , Trained In Interventinal Bronchoscopy , Trained In Medical Thoracoscopy , Trained In Rigid Bronchoscopy
Pulmonologist, Delhi  •  39years experience
Pleural Effusion - Everything You Must Know About It!

Thin membranes on the surface of lungs and inside of the chest cavity are known as Pleura. The space between them is known as Pleural space. Pleural Effusion is a common problem where fluid accumulates in the Pleural space. A person may have it if he or she has any heart or lung problems, such as Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Pulmonary Embolism, etc. Other problems not related to lung or heart, such as Hypothyroidism, Nephrotic Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ovarian Tumours, etc. may also lead to Pleural Effusion.

Causes of Pleural Effusion

There may be a wide range of causes for Pleural Effusion. The most common causes are:

Leakage of fluid from organs: If someone has a Heart problem and it is not pumping blood properly, there may be accumulation of fluid in the body. This fluid may leak into the Pleural space. If the Liver or Kidney is not working properly, it may also give rise to accumulation of fluid. This fluid build-up may leak into the Pleural space.

Infections: Infections like Bacterial Pneumonia and Tuberculosis are major reasons for Pleural Effusion.

Autoimmune conditions: Autoimmune conditions like Lupus Erythematosus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc. may also cause such condition.

Pulmonary embolism: Embolism leads to blockage in Artery in one of the lungs. This can lead to Pleural Effusion.

Lung cancer: Lung Cancer often causes Pleural Effusion. Cancer spreading to the Lungs from other organs too can precipitate the condition.

Pleural Effusion Symptoms

Symptoms of this disease show up only when the fluid build-up is moderate or large. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, chest pain, aggravation during deep breathing, cough, etc. These are the most pronounced symptoms of this condition. One may also have chills and night sweats.

Treatment of Pleural Effusion

These are some of the common treatment steps for this disease:

● The first stage in treatment is Chest X-ray or CT Scan to ascertain the dimension of fluid accumulation.
● The doctor may then draw out a sample of the fluid to test it for infection. If an infection is detected, doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
● If the fluid accumulation is less, the doctor may not consider it necessary to draw out the fluid.
● If there is a Heart problem, the doctor may prescribe medicines for the same.
● If the Effusion is large, a doctor would most likely perform a Thoracentesis to drain the fluid and ease the symptoms.
● If the Effusion keeps coming back, the doctor may consider a Pleural Drain. A catheter is put into the Pleural space for a long time for that.
● The doctor may also inject an inflammatory substance into the Pleural space. This inflames the Pleura and helps them bond with each other tightly. This is known as Pleurodesis and can heal the problem.

Pleural Effusion is a medical condition which is not to be taken lightly. One must consult an experienced doctor for its treatment, as it may worsen over time.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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