In the human body, there is a skinny layer of fluid between the lungs and the chest wall. This fluid is essential for the body since it has a lubricating action between the chest walls and crucial organs in the oxygenation of the body, that is, the lungs.
The space between these two parts in which fluid accumulates is called the pleura, while the substance between them is called pleural fluid. If this fluid increases in abnormal amounts, the chest walls begin to separate from the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion. If you are interested in obtaining more information about this condition, in the following FastlyHealarticle, you will find everything meaningful about pleural effusion: causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Pleural effusion: causes
The wide range of causes of pleural effusion means that they are classified as exudates and transudates. The first case is due to inflammation and is directly related to pleural affectations. Instead, transudates are non-inflammatory fluids that pass through the walls of blood vessels. This classification is essential to take into account to grant the correct treatment.
There are various causes of the accumulation of fluid in the pleura, at least 50 identified diseases that cause the alteration; among them is heart failure, which is pathology within the transudates whose main characteristic is a significant imbalance between what it needs the body and the ability of the heart to pump blood.
Likewise, systemic diseases can also be a prevalent cause of pleural effusion, for example:
- High blood pressure.
- Liver pathologies.
- Inflammatory disorders.
- Lung infections.
All of these could cause an increase in pleural fluid in the thorax, grouping them in the classification of exudates.
On the other hand, those who have undergone thoracic or abdominal surgeries also have a high probability of suffering from pleural effusion in one or both lungs. However, they are usually small and heal quickly.
Drugs such as bromocriptine, amiodarone, methysergide, and nitrofurantoin can cause a pleural effusion in some people. The same occurs with tuberculosis, a bacterial disorder that affects the lungs and is contagious.
Despite the above, certain risk factors can increase the chances of suffering a pleural effusion, among which are being a smoker, ingesting alcoholic beverages, having had hypertension, and having a history of contact with asbestos.
Symptoms of fluid accumulation in the pleura
On some occasions, patients with pleural effusion do not present any symptoms but instead come to emphasize more the underlying signs of the pathology that is producing it. However, there are specific, prevalent symptoms in those who suffer the outflow of this fluid located in the thorax, the same whose degree of affectation depends on the amount of accumulated fluid and the cause. Among the symptoms of pleural effusion include:
- Difficulty breathing normally.
- Fever with chills
- Chest discomfort, which causes more severe pain when coughing or breathing deeply.
Treatment to control increased pleural fluid
The main objective of the treatment of pleural effusion is to drain the existing fluid in the pleura, preventing it from accumulating again and analyzing the cause that caused it. Many doctors opt for the technique known as thoracentesis to remove the fluid, which aims to stop the fluid from putting pressure on the chest cavity and allow it to expand.
The specialist may then recommend various treatments depending on their health and the type of stroke they have suffered. On some occasions, diuretics are prescribed for heart failure, and, if not, it will be necessary to attack the cause to improve the outflow. If what is causing it is an infection, it must be treated effectively.
If the patient has cancer, the doctor may use a chest tube that will take a few days to remove the accumulated fluid; however, in more complicated cases, surgery can be performed to remove the pleural fluid, although it is the least used method.
Prognosis and possible complications of pleural effusion
The clinical development of the pleural effusion will depend exclusively on the underlying disease, so it is of great importance that a medical consultation is carried out as soon as possible to determine its cause and begin the indicated treatment.
Certain complications can aggravate the clinical picture of the patient, for example:
- That there is damage to the lung.
- For the infection to develop into an abscess known as a pleural empyema.
- Let air remain in the chest after draining the fluid.
- That there is a pleural thickening.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Pleural effusion: causes, symptoms, and treatment, we recommend that you enter our Lung and respiratory tract category.
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.