Pleural effusion is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the layers of tissue that surround the lung (pleura), it can cause pain, shortness of breath, cough, fever, hiccups, among others. It can be due to many different causes and therein lies the possibility that it is dangerous or not. There are cases in which it is solved in a very simple way, but there are others that require a longer treatment and that can be complicated.
If you are interested in knowing what is and the causes of a pleural effusion, in which cases it can be dangerous and how its treatment is carried out, then continue reading this FastlyHeal article.
Pleural effusion: symptoms
The pleura is a structure that surrounds the lung, it is two layers that in the middle has a very thin space with a small amount of fluid. When a large amount of fluid accumulates in that space , it is called a pleural effusion. You can feel:
- Shortness of breath.
- Fever or chills
- Chest pain that is worse when you cough or take a deep breath.
- Fast breathing.
Causes and types of pleural effusion
There are different types of pleural effusion according to its cause:
- Transudate : it is when the liquid increases by pressure and does not drain properly. This occurs in three main cases: heart failure (when due to heart problems, it does not pump blood properly), cirrhosis (due to alterations in the liver, fluid accumulates in the body) and hypoalbuminemia (low amount of protein, generally due to kidney problems).
- Exudate : due to problems near the pleura such as viral infection, tuberculosis, pneumonia, lung lesions, tumors, there is a greater passage of fluids from the blood or lymphatic vessels to the space between the pleura.
- Hemothorax : is when blood accumulates in the pleural space. It can be due to trauma, rupture of the aorta or clotting problems.
- Empyema : is when the pleural effusion is infected by bacteria, pus accumulates. It happens in cases of abscesses, pneumonia, after chest procedures, after open trauma from external wounds.
- Severe lung disease effusion : When the lungs have a serious disease (such as a large tumor, for example) and cannot expand properly, fluid can accumulate in the pleura due to the abnormal pressure generated in that space.
- There are cases in which the cause of pleural effusion is unknown, often being attributed to viral processes.
Is pleural effusion dangerous?
As we have seen, there are many causes of a pleural effusion and its characteristics can be very varied, therefore, the severity or not of the condition will also depend on many factors.
There are pictures of pleural effusion that, within their severity, are simple and resolve more or less quickly and without sequelae in the future. However, there are also complicated cases that can be dangerous , generally, because there is some previous disease, both local (in the lungs or chest) or due to generalized diseases. In those cases, a correct diagnosis and timely treatment is very important.
To improve a pleural effusion picture, an attempt must first be made to arrive at the diagnosis . It should be known what type of pleural fluid we are facing and if there is any disease, for which:
- The patient is questioned and thoroughly reviewed.
- Imaging studies (x-ray, computed tomography), blood and urine are usually ordered. Sometimes, an ultrasound of the pleura, the heart, the abdomen is also necessary. In addition, a specific study of the lung called a bronchoscopy (a small camera to see the state of the lungs) may be ordered.
- A puncture is carried out. This is done in one of the spaces between the ribs, after local anesthesia. It is a simple procedure but it gives a lot of information, since it manages to determine the type of liquid and gives clues about the possible causes of the spill. It can also serve as a treatment to extract fluid in the event that the amount is large.
Once the cause is known, treatment for pleural effusion may include:
- Successive fluid withdrawals if it continues to accumulate. This makes it possible to improve symptoms and improve the quality of life of the patient.
- Specific medication according to the cause: antibiotics, diuretics, medication in the pleural space so that fluid does not accumulate and even chemotherapy, among others.
There are some complications that can occur from a pleural effusion, including:
- Pleural effusion infection (empyema).
- Pum injury.
- Pneumothorax after puncture (entry of air into the lung).
- Formation of a scar (fibrosis) in the pleura or in nearby areas that hinders the normal functioning of the lung.
The most important thing you can do if you suffer from a pleural effusion is to improve your habits , it is essential that your diet adds vitality to your body and that it does not imply effort: consume raw fruits and vegetables, legumes and seeds, drink water, put aside the alcohol and cigarettes. Do not consume dairy or gluten, they increase the state of inflammation in your body and produce more secretions. Processed foods (full of colors, preservatives, sugar, sweeteners) only complicate the situation.
On the other hand, the correct hours of rest are very important, if the body asks to sleep, you have to pay attention to it, it is one more way to recover.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Is pleural effusion dangerous? , we recommend that you enter our category of Lung and respiratory tract .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.