What Is Viral Pleurisy?

The lungs are covered with a two protective membranes called the pleura. The pleura are located between the lungs and other parts of the thorax such as the ribs, heart, and the diaphragm. The two layers function as a protective covering for the lungs well as to keep other parts of the body from disturbing them. An inflammation of these layers will result in a condition known as pleurisy. There are several factors that can cause the condition. If it is caused by a virus, it is called viral pleurisy.

Viral pleurisy is a pleuritis which is secondary to a viral infection. The common types of viruses that can cause pleurisy are causative agents of influenza and mumps, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, and Epstain-Barr virus among others. Symptoms can often include chest pain that is most pronounced during deep breathing, coughing, sneezing, or sudden movement. The stabbing, gnawing chest pain is often felt on one side of the chest, but can radiate towards the sides or the shoulders and arms. Some experience difficulty in breathing because of it and may even subconsciously try to control breathing just to lessen the pain. You may or may have symptoms of fever, chills, lack of appetite, muscle pains, headache.

Typical treatment for pleurisy is medication for lessening pain including some treatment directed towards the cause. For viral pleurisy, however, your only medication may only be for the pain as viral infections often resolve themselves. Pain killers such as acetaminophen or NSAID's may be prescribed first to help relieve pain and inflammation. If NSAID's do not work, other pain killers and corticosteroid drugs may be mixed to help you cope with the pain. Anti-tussives or cough-suppressants are given to help control cough if it is present. You can help your medication and speed up the recovery by resting more often. Some find that lying on the painful side helps lessen the pain. Splinting can be done by wrapping your chest with elastic bandage. Since your lung expansion is compromised, you might want to do some slow, deep breaths and coughing to help loosen the mucus. This exercise help prevent development of pneumonia.