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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder Community
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How was the diagnosis of your pleurisy (pleuritis) established?

The doctor will ask you many questions about the pain, such as where it is located, how long it has been there, and how you've tried to make it better. The doctor will also ask about your personal habits, especially smoking, including the use of tobacco and street drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. Do not hide any information from the doctor. Anything you say will be just between the two of you, and you won't get in trouble with the law.The doctor will perform a complete physical examination and may do a number of tests to exclude other conditions such as pericarditis, heart failure, and other pleural disorders such as pneumothorax (air leaking into the pleural space), pleural effusion (excess fluid around the lung in the pleural space), hemothorax (blood in the pleural cavity), and empyema (pus in the pleural space).A doctor or nurse will check your blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and the oxygen saturation of your blood.The doctor will look at your skin for rashes or bruises. Infections of the skin such as shingles can cause chest pain, as can bruises.The doctor may press on your chest. If you have pain that the doctor can duplicate, especially in front where the ribs come together on the breast bone, you may have costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage of the chest.The doctor will listen closely with a stethoscope to your lungs. By listening, the doctor can sometimes tell whether you have other diseases of the lungs, such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, or a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). Some people with pleurisy develop a rubbing sound (called a   pleurisy friction rub) that is heard over the area that hurts. The doctor will also listen to your heart's rate and rhythm and determine whether you have any murmurs or extra heart sounds that may indicate a defect in or injury to the heart.You may need a   chest X-ray.The doctor may order electrocardiogram (ECG).  Medical professionals may perform some blood tests and send some of your blood to the lab for analysis to help rule out other causes of chest pain.
55 Responses
Avatar universal
I was having very sharp pains when breathing and went to the doctor yesterday. I was told I had pleurisy. I have been given antibiotics and prednisone for treatment.
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Late in the work day I started to feel a stabbing pain in my chest.  The pain was not severe, but I knew something was not right.  That night the pain increased.  I could not sleep because every other breath was painful.  The deeper the breath the more pain I felt.  For a few minutes I thought I could be having a minor heart attack, but the location of the pain was at the top of my rib cage, on the right hand side, just below my chest, nowhere near my heart.  Early the next morning the pain had not subsided, so I went to the hospital for treatment.  The only symptom I could provide the doctor was the stabbing pain during deep breaths.  He took first checked for inflamed organs then ordered chest x-rays.  He found a tiny area between the two linings where fluid was built up.  He decided to treat it as if it was pneumonia.  I was prescribed ibuprofen, anti-biotics, and pain medicine.
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I was diagnosed in the ER. I thought I was having a heart attack since the pain was on the right side of my left lung. I went through all the tests to rule out a heart attack and then $1500.00 later the doctor said it was pleurisy. He sent me home with 800 mg ibuprophen and a prescription pain medicine and told me to stay in bed for 4 days. That was about 5-6 years ago. I was 31-32 years old. I did smoke for a long time but I quite when I was 29. Since then I have had Pleurisy 4 times. The 4th time is right now. With the 2-4 time I have not been sick before getting it. It just woke me up at 4:00 a.m. this morning. I don't have health insurance so I just take 4 200mg ibuprophen 4 times a day and rest as much as possible until the pain goes away. I was told by a friend that once you have pleurisy it never goes away. It just lies dormant in your body and you have reoccurring episodes.
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I just got over pleurisy. I was 10 weeks pregnant and in a meeting at work when I got a very sharp pain under my ribs on the left side. I never had a heart attack but I figured that is what it feels like. I had a much duller pain all day that I had taken Tylenol for. When I got to the emergency room no one had a clue. They told me I had a pulmonary embolism. They did a bunch of different tests and came back and said it was not a pulmonary embolism and I could go home. No one could tell me why it hurts to breathe. The next day I went to my OBGYN who told me about pleurisy. She gave me an antibiotic and said I will still be in pain for about a week because she could not give me an anti-inflammatory because of the pregnancy. The pain finally subsided.
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I woke up two nights ago with a stabbing pain on the top of my rib cage that radiated into my left shoulder.  I went back to sleep but the pain kept coming and by the next afternoon I decided to get it checked out just in case.  It really hurt when I took a deep breath.  The ER did an EKG, blood tests and a chest X-ray and decided it was pleurisy and sent me home and told me to take 400mg of Ibuprofen every 6 hours.  They didn't have an answer as to why I had it and said it would go away in about a week.  We'll see!
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I currently am having a bout of pleurisy. I know because I've had it before. The first time I got it was when I was in the fifth grade. I am now 47 years old and have had it probably twice since. I don't have any health insurance so I am trying to deal with it. It does help to lie on the side where the pain is and to take it easy. But if the pain gets like it has in the past I will have to go the doctor and get something. I am hoping that it will just go away on its own.
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I had a bad cough which I thought was left over from a lung infection 2 weeks previously.  Then I started getting this stabbing pain in the right hand side of my chest.  I assumed it was pulled muscles from the cough.  Then the pain escalated until I was almost in tears. I couldn't move without excruciating pain in my chest.  My doctor was away and I didn't want to go to the hospital to sit for hours.  I had some Tylenol #2's left over from some previous affliction and took those along with Motrin and ice packs.  I slept sitting up in a lazy boy.  Still figuring it was muscle related I went to my chiropractor.  He thought it might be associated with my ribs.  He did a body massage with a machine which helps for a few hours.  I was still in massive pain.  I asked him if I could have a lung infection and he said it was certainly possible.  I finally went to my Doctor and it took him a couple of minutes to diagnose pleurisy.  That was a week later and way too much pain.
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I just got back from the ER to find out I have pleurisy.  I thought it was panic/anxiety attacks for the last 4 weeks, so I took my Xanax, normally one would make the pain stop.  Last night, the Xanax wouldn't work and I couldn't breathe, walk, or sit.  It was off to the ER for 6 hours of, Chest X-rays, an EKG, and every blood test known to man. The doctor came back to say I have Pleurisy. I was prescribed 800mg Ibuprofen and another pain medicine.  The doctor told me it will take a week to feel better and to just take it easy.
Avatar universal
I have had this before. I had been at the pc for a long time, not sitting up straight, which made me wonder if the lung had been "pinched" causing the fluid. I developed a sharp pain below the right breast, but also felt pain in the upper shoulder area. It was very difficult to breathe and this was my only symptom that time. At first, I thought it was gall bladder pain or bad heartburn, which I've also had before. Nothing seemed to help till I was told to take 4-5 ibuprofens. That at least dulled the pain. I went to the doctor the next morning and was diagnosed with pleurisy, put on an anti-biotic and regular ibuprofen. This time, I woke with bad heartburn and a slight tummy ache. I thought I had a touch of the flu. Over the course of the day, I developed a fever of 100.4. The pain began almost 12 hours later, again in the lower right breast area, but also in the upper shoulder. It was night time, so I took 4 ibuprofen, which again helped,  but by no means gets rid of the pain. I went to the doctor this morning and again, it is pleurisy. I had no cough, though I did a couple of days ago. It helps to lay on the opposite side. It hurts badly to lay on my back or be up moving around. Today the doctor put me on an anti-biotic and regular ibuprofen.
Avatar universal
I began with sharp stabbing pain in the lower part of my shoulder blade a couple of nights ago. I had also developed a slight congestion.  I took ibuprofen and slept for about couple of hours then I woke up with the sharp stabbing pain in the middle of my back on the left-hand side. The next morning, I went to the doctor, and he listened to my lungs and said they were clear.  He sent me home saying I had shingles, but I didn't have any blisters or indication of skin discoloration.  He said he didn't want to prescribe anything until he could confirm it was shingles, and call him the next morning to report. Again that evening I took more ibuprofen before going to bed and was able to sleep for a couple of hours and then woke up to terrible sharp and burning pain.  This never occurred in my chest and it didn't hurt to breathe. I called the doctor the next day and said I still didn't have any blisters, but the pain was still there.  He prescribed valacyclovir and pain medication. I took one dose of valacyclovir and pain medication that day before going to bed and slept all night. I called the doctor the next day and reported that still didn't have blisters and pain and subsided.  Now he thinks it was a touch of pleurisy.
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Started with a head cold, which went into my lungs. I'm sure I've been through a dozen boxes of Kleenex. The muck coming out of my sinus and then my phlegm was unbelievable. I'm a non smoker, always have been. The symtoms seem to be getting better till I awoke this morning with what feels like a pulled muscle under my shoulder blade. The pain radiated down my arm. Uh oh! Off to the doctor.   Pleurisy. I was prescribed a medication that was $72 for 10 pills. Ouch! I don't know which pain was worse!
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During an office exam, my doctor heard the noise that he described as "two pieces of leather rubbing against each other" as pleurisy.  He said that only 1 in 10 people with pleurisy have this "noise" and it was fortunate that I did as it helped support his diagnosis.
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I currently have pleurisy. It started with a sinus infection and earache and progressed to the chest and back pain with breathing. I have had it about four times in the past 10 years, so I knew what it was. Went to the doctor on Monday and she prescribed an antibiotic and an inhaler. I am taking that and using the inhaler 2x/day plus the heating pad. Hopefully everything will clear up within the next 10 days.
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Like all of the stories I've read I too am experiencing sharp stabbing pains when I breathe and feel it in my shoulder. It really hurts! I've had pleurisy every winter for the past 10 yrs. I go to the clinic where it's documented and begin to explain I know for a fact I have pleurisy I know what it feels like. The doctor gives me Tylenol and sends me on my way. I'm so pissed off and in pain. I'm a nursing student so it ticks me off more to know doctors are treating people like this. I hope I never work with him! FYI been reading up on pleurisy says that you may have an underlying disease that causes pleurisy to re-occur such has diabetes, lupus heart disease.  I urge u people to stay on top of these uneducated doctors and take care I feel your pain.
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It was last week - on Thursday I was constantly feeling tired. Then gradually I developed pain somewhere in my left rib cage - not knowing precisely from where. This grew into an excruciating pain under my shoulder blade and back. Two days later- after painful nights with fever and chills- the family doctor diagnosed pleurisy. I was given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. The day after, although I had no cold- running nose or anything - I started coughing slightly. Then came the sputum with blood stains. I had pneumonia back in end 2008. 2009 had been fairly good, although with slight cough. The harsh thing is that my mother says it leaves your lungs fragile and pleurisy is dormant- it may come back anytime.
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I'm 40, perfectly fit and healthy, no chronic illnesses, no medications I take regularly. Yesterday, after getting my kids off to daycare/school, I felt back pain between my shoulder blades - dull, like I'd been punched. It got slightly worse at work, and then hurt under my breastbone. I started having trouble breathing, so my school nurse called an ambulance. Seven hours in the ER, after EKG etc to rule out heart attack, blood work and chest X-rays. I had a chest CT scan to check for a blood clot in the lung, they diagnosed pleurisy. I have never even heard of that before! I'd had a head cold about 2 weeks ago, but was feeling better, but no other symptoms. This was a scary experience!
Avatar universal
I am a 30 year old male, smoke a lot (mostly joints) and had similar symptoms and thought it was the flu, then heartburn, indigestion, palpitations and figured I need some TLC and kept on going on with my normal life. It was hell though-anxiety, stress, dizziness I couldn't keep my posture straight and finally after 3 months went to the doc and 1 of my lungs was flat and there was hardcore pleural efficacy. Bottom-line still suffering from it (6 months) and is become part of life now. Even having sex has made me feel inadequate cause of the damn breathing issue's. Please don't take this lightly get medical advice ASAP. On a positive side am taking some homeopathic medicine and feel better in the last week or so Also a vacation to a sunny warm place does wonders!
Avatar universal
I was having a little pain & discomfort while taking deep breaths, the next day I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a car! My upper back and chest ached and produced a sharp pain when taking a deep breath, coughing, sneezing, or even just moving. I also had chills. Finally decided to go to the ER, I had an EKG, X-ray, and blood work done, to rule out pneumonia or any other infection. Turns out it was a virus in my left lung...pleurisy.  I had never heard of this condition before, but it is very painful!
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First, I had a sore throat, then congestion and coughing. My illness subsided after seven days, but then I had pain and tenderness that started just bellow my right breast bone. Pressing on the area caused pain. It hurt to take deep breaths, cough, and sneeze. It was most painful at night while sleeping on my back. It felt better if I slept on my side. Three days later, it wasn't getting better, so I saw my doctor. I was diagnosed with pleurisy. I was subscribed 600 mg of ibuprofen to reduce the swelling and help with the pain. It's not getting better though.
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Reading the comments from others has very been interesting as I did not know that pleurisy often recurs. This is my 5th bout. The first was 34 years ago. Apart from the first time, I have always been in a 3rd world country and the local doctors have been prepared to accept my self-diagnosis. I take antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs and it goes away in a matter of days. I am also happy not to have been living in the US as the cost of treatment has been negligible.
Avatar universal
I woke up one Monday morning at 04:00 feeling like I had been kicked in the ribs by a horse. For the next 24 hours I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my lower back and ribs. By Tuesday morning the pain had mostly subsided and was a dull throb. Thinking it might be a kidney stone I waited a few days for the pain to 'move on down'. But that never happened. Instead, every morning I woke up in agony which subsided after a few minutes upright and a Motrin. Then Friday morning I woke up feeling okay. I got into the shower and immediately started coughing up bloody sputum. I went to the local ER. After blood, urine, a chest x-ray, and two CT scans I was diagnosed with atypical pneumonia and pleurisy. I was prescribed azithromycin and painkillers. Coughing and pneumonia symptoms were gone within a few days but the pleurisy lingered for a week or so...  and I got treatment early. Please if you experience these symptoms (sharp chest pain + chills + shortness of breath) do not delay treatment! Pleurisy is very often a sign of more serious illness. (Besides which, it hurts like the dickens!)
Avatar universal
My doctor told me that I had pleurisy, which developed after a bout with pneumonia.
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I was diagnosed with pleurisy when I lived in India 18 years ago. I was told that it was due to the tuberculosis virus/bacteria and was put on an antibiotic regimen for nine months, and had to have lung X-rays done every few weeks.
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I earlier had an operation in Jan'13, in which where my Uterus and Ovaries were removed due to Chocolate Cysts and Fiberoids. After the operation, when I was discharged, I noted that I had these breathlessness whenever I did work for more than 10 minutes or spoke for more than 15 minutes. Somehow after a month of good eating and getting my strength back the Breathlessness stopped. Then ahain this May'13, I developed the Breathlessness frequently along with sharp pain in the right chest area. I consulted a doctor, who did a Chest X-Ray for me which showed fluid built up in my right lung, so much so that, the ribs cag of the right lung was hardly visible. I was immediately sent for a 'Procedure to Drain the Fluid out with aneedle'. This kept happening for 3 times every week. Then the Doctor asked me to get admitted and told me I was suffering from TB, which could be a side effect after I had my Uterus removal operation. At hospital the Doctor drained the excess fluid in the  chest through some procedure called Thoracentesis. Then I was discharged after 2 weeks. I am asked to go for Chest X-Rays every 5 days to see if the fluid accumulates again. Hardly 2 dys have passed since I got discharged from hospital and removal of the Fluid and again my X-Ray today showed half rib cage of right lung hazy, which indicate that again fluid had built-up. I am on TB medicines also since 2 months now. I really do not know when this Fluid is going to stop oozing out so excessively in my chest cavity !! I'm afraid I'm going to die soon.    India  Mumbai
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