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By Oliviah Rix-Taylor

on Thursday 4 January 2018

The anatomy of human lungs

What is Pleurisy?

Pleurisy is an inflammation of two, thin tissue linings in the chest cavity that causes them to rub together in a process known and pleural friction rub. This irritation can often cause a build-up of fluid between the two layers known as pleural effusion.

The first pleural layer is known as the visceral pleura and covers the lung. The second pleural layer covers the inner lining of the chest and is known as the parietal pleura. A normal amount (10-20 ml) of pleural fluid exists between the two tissue layers to act as a lubricant, but in some cases of pleurisy this can increase up to 4-5 litres.

Pleural effusion is often presented in conjunction with cases of mesothelioma, according to a research paper published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). They also stated that more than 80% of all Mesothelioma cases can be attributable to asbestos exposure.


What are the causes of Pleurisy?

Many people want to know; how do you get Pleurisy? There are a number of causes, some of which include;

  • Infections, viruses, and fungal intrusions
  • Cancer
  • Blood clots
  • Trauma such as fractured ribs
  • Congenital disease
  • Mesothelioma
  • Inhalation of harmful airborne irritants and toxic substances

The last two listed causes for pleurisy are most often derived from workplace environments, in which poor health and safety measures have resulted in a detriment to the health and well-being of employees, failing them on their 'duty of care'.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported over 19,000 deaths, of male employees, relating to Mesothelioma between 2011 and 2015. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer of the lungs typically related to asbestos exposure.

Employers must keep certain chemicals below harmful levels and provide sufficient training and protection for the handling of harmful substances in the workplace, amongst other health and safety measures. If a lung condition, such as pleurisy, develops as a result of a negligent employer's behaviour then the employee is entitled to claim for compensation.


What are the symptoms of Pleurisy?

The irritation from the inflamed pleura can cause two main symptoms that are notably attributed to pleurisy, these are;

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp pain in the chest, made worse by deep breathing

These two symptoms in conjunction are typical of pleurisy pain and usually rule out other causes of the pain such as back problems. The abundant nerve endings in the pleura are what cause the sharp or stabbing pain during expansion of the lungs for inhalation. The presence of excess pleural fluid can cause the shortness of breath due to a reduction in lung space and capacity.


Determining Pleurisy

A doctor will examine the chest area with a stethoscope and will often be able to hear the pleural friction rub and decreased breath sound, due to a build of up of fluid, and the chest can have a dull sound in response to percussion (being drummed upon by a doctor).

Further examinations such as X ray’s and CT scans can then determine the amount and location of pleural fluid.

The pleural effusion, or fluid in the chest cavity, can be drained in a process known as thoracentesis. The fluid can then be sent away for analysis to determine whether the fluid is exudative of transudative.

Exudative Fluid – usually indicates infections and pulmonary diseases.

Transudative Fluid – can be indicative of heart failure and further organ disease.


Treatment for Pleurisy

Once pleurisy symptoms have been noted and possible medical causes have been determined, such as lung infection pleurisy, treatment can be offered.

Typical treatment methods are often non-invasive, particularly for viral or bacterial causes. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often administered for the pain alongside non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

In more extreme cases the fluid in the pleural cavity may need to be drained under local anaesthetic or via more invasive surgical procedures.

In terms of prevention for recurring pleural problems, an irritant can be applied between the pleural layers to cause them to stick and scar together. The pleural cavity will be significantly reduced, preventing the continued build of fluid.


How Accident Line Direct can help

Accident Line Direct can help you to claim compensation for pleurisy or other lung diseases that were caused as a result of your occupation.

If you would like to initiate a claim or are simply looking for more information, then call Accident Line Direct to speak to one of our advisors who have experience and knowledge in the claims sector.

0808 1454275

Accident Line Direct can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!