What Is Pleurisy?

Pleurisy is a condition in which the thin tissues in the pleura, two large layers of tissues that line your lungs from the chest wall, becomes inflamed.

When you breathe, pleura rub together, but this is not a problem otherwise as there is a bit of fluid within the narrow space in the pleura to keep everything moving smoothly.

However, when the tissues are infected or tender or inflamed, they may cause intense pain or become swell. Especially when you inhale deeply, sneeze, or laugh, or cough, you may feel stabbing sharp pain in the affected area that can worsen during breathing.

Nowadays, most cases of pleurisy are the result of viral infections that probably act threatening to life. Certain health emergencies also give rise to pleurisy, such as:

  • a collapsed lung, which is called pneumothorax
  • heart problems
  • trauma or injury to the chest

Chronic pleurisy lasts from several days to weeks. The cause could either be an infection, such as TB or rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.

If the cause is a contagious infection, pleurisy may be classified as contagious, so it can spread.


One of the prevalent signs linked to pleurisy is a sharp and stabbing pain in the area which is inflamed or infected. The pain might only go away when you pressurize the painful area or hold your breath.

Nonetheless, if you sneeze, cough or move around, the pain may turn worse. The infection that triggers pleurisy may show various signs such as loss of appetite, fever, chills, etc., depending upon the underlying cause.

Additional symptoms of pleurisy include:

  • pain on one or both sides of your chest
  • pain that radiates to your shoulders and back
  • shortness of breath
  • shallow breathing to avoid feeling pain
  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • muscle aches

As pleurisy progresses, the fluid buildup may pressurize the lungs even more and cause them to stop functioning as they need to. The fluid that buildup in the lungs is called pleural effusion.

Initially, the fluid may work as a cushion, so the chest pain disappears many times. But as there is more and more fluid, the pressure in the arteries may cause severe conditions.

Sooner you will feel breathlessness followed by chills, fever, and a dry cough.

Atelectasis is a collection of fluid in the space that compresses the lungs to the point that it collapses.

These signs which appear due to the collection of pus relate to a condition called empyema. The extra fluid may become infected and be referred to as pus.


A variety of conditions can result in pleurisy. In most cases, the cause is a viral infection, including flu. Pleurisy may also develop in response to the infection in the pleurisy cavity.

Likely the causes of pleurisy include:

  • bacterial pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • tuberculosis
  • blunt trauma to the chest wall
  • chest wounds
  • chest or lung tumors
  • blood clots in the arteries of the lung also called pulmonary emboli
  • immune system conditions, such as systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • heart surgery complications
  • lung cancer
  • lymphoma
  • sickle cell anemia
  • cancer caused by asbestos exposure called mesothelioma
  • fungal or parasitic infections
  • rib fractures

Cigarette smoking is less likely to cause pleurisy, but it can also cause coughing, which may worsen the signs linked to pleurisy.

Ayurvedic Treatment For Pleurisy

In Ayurveda, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha all play roles in the development of Parshwashool. However, primarily it is the Vata that controls the respiratory system. As the Vata gets imbalanced, it may disrupt the functioning of the other doshas as well. It may lead to the formulation of toxins (Ama) and Kapha, which is thick in nature, in the respiratory system. As Pitta is hot in nature, it liquifies Kapha and results in a watery fluid. As a result, fluid may start to accumulate in the lungs.

This makes breathing tough for an individual. Further, aggravation of Kapha can hamper the digestive fire and affects digestion.

Fortunately, there are treatments in Ayurveda that can help with the elimination of fluid by pacifying the aggravated doshas.

If left untreated, one may experience cough, trembling of the chest, and breathlessness.

At Pragati Veda, we have procedures and therapies to help a person suffering from pleurisy. All the herbal procedures are safe to be embraced by the patients because the aim is to get rid of the underlying causes and not on subsiding the signs only.

If you are experiencing any signs related to pleurisy, as mentioned above, you can reach out to us at Pragati veda.