What is Pleural Effusion?
Let’s start with some basics so we best understand what is pleural effusion. The pleura is a very thin membrane that surrounds the surface of the lungs and the inside of the chest wall in the lungs area. Under normal conditions a small amount of watery fluid exists in the pleural space, whose purpose is to allow the lungs to move properly within the chest cavity during breathing. So what is pleura effusion? It is an abnormal amount of this watery fluid in the pleural space!
What Causes Pleural Effusion?
Congestive heart failure
Liver disease (cirrhosis)
End-stage renal disease
Lupus and other autoimmune conditions
So an inflammation like pneumonia creates pleural effusion or the body does not handle this watery liquid properly.
Symptoms of Pleural Effusion
Shortness of breath
Chest pain, especially on breathing in deeply
Types of Pleural Effusion
There are two main types of pleural effusion:
Transudative and Exudative
Transudative is excessive amount of fluid but it is not infected or inflamed. There is just a lot of it. It usually does not requir drainage unless it is very large. Congestive heart failure is an example that causes transudative pleural effusion.
Exudative pleural effusion is excessive fluid that it is infected and inflamed. Exudative pleural effusion usually requires drainage. It is usually caused by pneumonia or lung cancer.
Determining what type it is, requires taking a sample of fluid and testing it.
Treatments for Pleural Effusion
Most of the time the fluid is drained to prevent complications and ease the symptoms. Additionally the cause is treated. For example if it was caused by pneumonia, antibiotics are usually prescribed, etc.
Symptomatic Pleural Effusion
Symptomatic Pleural Effusion is the result of inadequate and incomplete drainage. This condition could be serious because 40% of all symptomatic pleural effusions are the result of malignant cancers. Lung cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia account for approximately 75% of all malignancy-associated effusions. Make sure you address these issues with your doctors and make sure that your medical team does not misdiagnose the reasons of symptomatic pleural effusion.