The key difference between pleural effusion and pleurisy is that pleural effusion is the build-up of excess fluid between the layers of pleura outside the lungs, while pleurisy is the inflammation of pleura, the sheet-like layers that cover the lungs.
Pleural disorders are medical conditions that affect the pleura, the tissue that covers the lungs. This tissue covers the outside of the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity. The space between its two layers is called the pleural space. The fluid that is filled in this space helps the pleural layers to glide smoothly against each other when breathing in and out. Pleural effusion and pleurisy are two different types of pleural disorders.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Pleural Effusion
3. What is Pleurisy
4. Similarities – Pleural Effusion and Pleurisy
5. Pleural Effusion vs Pleurisy in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Pleural Effusion vs Pleurisy
What is Pleural Effusion?
Pleural effusion is known as water in the lungs. It is a condition that is due to the excess build-up of fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs. Pleural layers are thin membranes that line the lungs. Pleura help to lubricate and facilitate breathing. Usually, a small amount of fluid is present in the space of pleural layers. Pleural effusion is a very common condition. Approximately 10,000 cases are reported in the United States each year. The excess fluid in the pleural effusion may be either protein-poor (transudative) or protein-rich (exudative). The causes of transudative and exudative pleural effusion are also different. The most common causes of transudative pleural effusion include heart failure, pulmonary embolisms, cirrhosis, and post-open heart surgery. The most common causes of exudative pleural effusion include pneumonia, cancer, pulmonary embolism, kidney disease, and inflammatory disease.
Other less common causes may include tuberculosis, autoimmune disease, bleeding, chylothorax, rare chest and abdominal infections, exposure to asbestos, Meig’s syndrome, and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The symptoms of pleural effusions include chest pain, dry, non-productive cough, shortness of breath, difficult labored breathing, and the inability to breathe very easily unless the person is sitting up or standing erect.
Pleural effusion can be diagnosed through chest X-ray, CT scan of the chest, ultrasound of the chest, thoracentesis, and pleural fluid analysis. Furthermore, treatment options for pleural effusion may include antibiotics for pneumonia, diuretics for congestive heart failure, thoracentesis, tube thoracostomy (chest tube) and pleural drain, pleurodesis (injecting an irritating substance (talc or doxycycline) through a chest tube to a pleural space, pleural decortications (operating inside pleural space, removing potentially dangerous inflammation and unhealthy tissue).
What is Pleurisy?
Pleurisy is the inflammation of the sheet-like layers that cover the lungs called pleura. The causes of pleurisy may include viral infections such as flu, bacterial infections like pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, fungal infection, autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis or lupus), lung cancer, tuberculosis, rib fracture or trauma, certain inherited diseases such as sickle cell anemia certain medications and recreational drugs. Pleurisy may cause symptoms such as chest pain that worsens when breathing, coughing or sneezing, shortness of breath, cough, and fever.
Pleurisy can be diagnosed through physical examination, medical history, blood tests, chest X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, and electrocardiogram (ECG and EKG). Furthermore, treatment options for pleurisy may include antibiotics for pneumonia, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and steroids for pain and inflammation, lifestyle and home remedies (taking medications to relieve pain and inflammation regularly, getting plenty of rest and stopping smoking).
What are the Similarities Between Pleural Effusion and Pleurisy?
- Pleural effusion and pleurisy are two different types of pleural disorders
- Pleurisy can occur along with pleural effusion, atelectasis, or empyema.
- Inflammations can be seen in both conditions.
- Both conditions may be due to similar causes, such as pneumonia.
- They may show similar symptoms, such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, etc.
- They can be diagnosed through similar methods such as chest X-ray, CT scan, etc.
- They are treated through specific medications such as antibiotics and pain medications.
What is the Difference Between Pleural Effusion and Pleurisy?
Pleural effusion is the build-up of excess fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs, while pleurisy is the inflammation of the pleura. Thus, this is the key difference between pleural effusion and pleurisy. Furthermore, approximately 10,000 cases of pleural effusion are reported in the United States each year. On the other hand, approximately 1.5 million cases of pleurisy are reported in the United States each year.
The below infographic presents the differences between pleural effusion and pleurisy in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Pleural Effusion vs Pleurisy
Pleural tissue covers the outside of the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity. Pleural effusion and pleurisy are two different types of pleural disorders that can occur along with each other. Pleural effusion is the build-up of excess fluid between the layers of pleura outside the lungs. Pleurisy is the inflammation of pleura. So, this is the key difference between pleural effusion and pleurisy.
1. “Pleural Effusion – Causes, Symptoms, Types, and Treatments.” WebMD.
2. “Pleurisy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
1. “Blausen 0993 PleuralEffusion” By BruceBlaus – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Pleurisy” By BruceBlaus – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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