Pleurisy or pleuritis is an inflammation of the tissues surrounding the lungs in the pleural cavity. It is caused when fluid, air or particles start to fill the normal partial vacuum in the cavity. It can have several underlying causes, but initial treatment is always supportive until the underlying cause can be treated.
The condition is defined by pain on one side of the chest that is exacerbated by coughing, sneezing or laughing. The patient usually has difficulty breathing and their pulse and heart rate speed up due to lack of oxygen.
In all cases, the underlying cause must be treated. In the meantime, patients must be given supplemental support, such as oxygen, and the plural cavity must be regularly purged of foreign material to keep it as clear as possible until the patient recovers.