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What are pleural cavity diseases?


Pleural cavity diseases affect the thin membrane, called the pleura, that wraps around the lung and lines the inside of the chest wall. The pleura can become irritated, inflamed (pleurisy) and infected (pleuritis). Extra fluid (pleural effusion), air (pneumothorax), or blood (hemothorax) can accumulate between them, causing part of the lung to collapse. Mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer of the pleural membranes, is nearly always caused by exposure to asbestos.

Pleural cavity diseases affect the thin membrane, called the pleura, that wraps around the lung and lines the inside of the chest wall. The pleura can become irritated, inflamed (pleurisy) and infected (pleuritis). Extra fluid (pleural effusion), air (pneumothorax), or blood (hemothorax) can accumulate between them, causing part of the lung to collapse. Mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer of the pleural membranes, is nearly always caused by exposure to asbestos.

Many of the symptoms of pleural cavity diseases are the result of the rubbing of irritated pleura against each other. Sharp chest pain, especially when you inhale deeply or cough, is a common symptom of most of the conditions. You might also feel shortness of breath, chest tightness, and fatigue. You might have pain in your neck, shoulder, or abdomen, known as referred pain. Sometimes, the symptoms might be minimal; you might not feel a pleural effusion at all, depending on its severity. Usually, doctors aim to provide pain relief, remove the fluid, air, or blood from the pleural space if there is a large amount, and treat the underlying cause.


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