What is Pleural Effusion

What is pleural effusion?
We all do one common thing every second of our lives and that is breathing. It may seem like a simple process but it has vital significance. Pleural effusion indicates a condition when this simple process becomes complicated. In lay man terms, the condition can be explained as water around the lungs. As the fluid accumulates, the condition becomes more serious. The seriousness is dependent on the underlying cause of it. Pleural effusion might be treatable depending on the cause of the complication but it can also be life threatening.

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Understanding pleural effusion
Pleura refers to thin membranes that line the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity. While breathing, when the chest moves, the lining also moves along with it smoothly within the chest cavity to let the lung expand and inhale air. There is a small amount of fluid present at all times that acts as a lubricant between these linings. The condition becomes abnormal when the fluids increases making it difficult for a person to breathe normally as the fluid collected in between the linings does not allow the lung to expand.

Causes
There is not a single cause of pleural effusion. It cannot be termed as a disease itself but rather a complication caused by some medical conditions mentioned below.

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Liver disease (cirrhosis)
  • Kidney failure or Nephrotic syndrome
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Cancer
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Lupus and other autoimmune conditions

Symptoms and Diagnosis
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chest pain

Some patients might not display any of the symptoms, but there are ways of finding out. Generally X-Rays, chest ultrasound and CT scans are used to diagnose it. There is also a test called thoracentesis, in which the fluid is directly taken from the lungs by injecting a needle and then there is pleural fluid analysis that investigates the fluid removed.

Treatment & Management
As the condition is caused due to a medical complication, to treat pleural effusion the cause has to be first verified and controlled. It can be treated with specific medications if it is due to congestive heart failure or an infection. Other treatment processes include thoracentesis that is used both for diagnosis and also to drain the fluid. Apart from needle, chest tube can be used to drain fluid, this is referred to as tube thoracostomy. Chest tubes can be kept for days at times. Pleurodesis is another process in which a substance is injected through the chest tube. The aim is to glue the two walls together so that the fluid would not accumulate again.

Pleural effusion in lung cancer patients can get complicated and may require chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Pleural mesothelioma is common enough. This is a condition in which the cancer is at times linked to asbestos exposure. If you are facing the consequences of asbestos exposure that leads to pleural mesothelioma or have faced any negligence that has made diagnosis for pleural effusion complicated, it is important to be aware of legal rights. Life is precious and negligence must be held accountable.

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FAQs

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Q:What causes a pleural effusion? I need a general idea.

A:Congestive heart failure, pneumonia, cancer, liver disease like cirrhosis, end-stage renal disease, nephrotic syndrome and pulmonary embolism are the numerous medical conditions that can cause pleural effusions. Because the body does not handle fluid properly, the excessive fluid may accumulate and can result into pneumonia, autoimmune disease and other such conditions.

Q:I came upon the term somewhere and I was wondering what causes pleural effusion. Can you tell me something about it?

A:Pleural effusions can result from a number of medical conditions. It occurs when fluid accumulates in the space between the layers of pleura. There are a number of medical conditions which can cause pleural effusion. Heart failure, kidney or liver disease may accumulate the excessive fluid and it may also result from inflammation such as in autoimmune disease or pneumonia.

Q:What causes pleural effusions?

A:Pleural effusion can be defined as the presence of excessive fluid around the lungs that can cause, malfunctioning of the lungs. There are various causes that have been linked to Pleural effusion. These include the following: inflammation of the pleura, kidney failure, heart disease, breast cancer, and more. There are a number of treatments available for this condition.

Q:What does pleural effusion mean?

A:Pleural effusion can be defined as excess fluid surrounding the lungs. This condition causes chest pain and difficulty in breathing. A number of causes have been detected for this condition to occur. In some cases it can be caused by kidney failure, low levels of albumin in the blood, infections, and even heart disease.

Q:What is a pleural effusion? I need to know so I can be more aware of its harmful consequences, if any.

A:In simple terms, a pleural effusion is the collection of fluid between the layers in the pleural space. This is the space between the outside of the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity and is lined by thin layers of tissue. The body naturally lubricates these layers to minimize friction during the expansion and contraction of lungs within the interior of one's chest cavity, but an excessive amount can be indicative of cardiopulmonary disorders as well as tumors.

Q:What is bilateral pleural effusion and is it a sign of underlying illness afflicting the body?

A:A bilateral pleural effusion is an abnormal or excessive discharge of fluid between the lungs and the chest cavity. Such fluid is typically secreted by the body in normal functioning to lubricate the layers in the pleural space but excessive amounts of its release can signify the body trying to deal with a range of underlying complications such as leaking blood vessels, tuberculosis, various bacterial infections, pneumonia and even clots in the pulmonary artery.

Q:What is bilateral pleural effusions?

A:The term bilateral pleural effusion is a medical condition caused by pulmonary embolism, leaking blood vessels, heart disease, and cirrhosis condition. This condition is normally detected via X-ray. One of the main symptoms of bilateral pleural effusion is chest pain. Other symptoms include difficulty in breathing and infections. A number of treatments are available for bilateral pleural effusion.w

Q:What is pleural effusion? I need information on its symptoms and treatment.

A:An abnormal amount of fluid around the lungs is pleural effusion. It can result from several medical conditions and although pleural effusions are not serious, some requires treatment. Shortness of breath, cough, chest pain and fever are general symptoms of pleural effusion. In some cases, the fluid is drained by small tubes while some cases can be treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy.

Q:I need to know what is pleural effusion caused by. Can you help me with that?

A:There are two major types of the causes of pleural effusion: transudative and exudative. The most common cause of transudative pleural effusions is cirrhosis and left ventricular failure while exudative pleural effusions are caused by pneumonia, cancer, pulmonary embolism and viral infection. There are other, ungrouped causes as well which includes tuberculosis and autoimmune disease.

Q:My partner is diagnosed with pleural effusions. I want to know what is pleural effusions, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options before we take the next step.

A:The body produces small amount of a fluid to lubricate the surface of pleura which is a thin tissue lining the chest cavity and surrounding the lung. An abnormal/excessive collection of this fluid is called pleural effusions. Among its many causes, congestive heart failure, lung injury and tumors are the most common ones. Its symptoms include chest pain, cough and fever and it can be treated through surgery or chemotherapy to drain the fluid and stopping it from building again.