Pleural diseases represent a variety of lung related disorders that affect the overall health and function of the lungs. Pleural diseases do not directly affect the lungs, rather, they damage the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs. When the pleura are damaged, they impair how the lung functions.
There are several different types of pleural diseases that are caused by a variety of elements and underlying conditions. These include:
- Pneumothorax is a condition marked by the escape of air from the lung into the chest cavity (pleural space). This release of air inflates the lung and can ultimately lead to a lung collapse.
- Pleural effusion is the most common pleural disease. It is a condition characterized by an abnormal collection of fluid in the pleural cavity. This generally happens when the pleural lining has been exposed to outside chemicals or by another disease causing the lining to become scarred. This scarring and blockage creates a back-up of fluid between the chest wall and lungs.
- Pleurisy is a condition caused by a viral infection or illness such as pneumonia. It is a condition in which the pleura becomes inflamed. This can cause sharp chest pains, irregular breathing and coughing.
- Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the pleura that is directly caused by asbestos exposure. This cancer accounts for the majority of all malignant mesothelioma cases.
There are a variety of symptoms that can be the result of a disease related to the pleura. In most cases, sharp chest pains, coughing, fatigue, trouble breathing and difficulty catching one’s breath will be evident in almost all of the conditions.
The treatment for pleural disease will depend on the underlying cause, the disease that is diagnosed, the stage the disease is in and the medical history of the patient. Lung and heart medications, surgery as well as more progressive treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, are available to treat pleura-related conditions.