Another word for pleurisy is pleuritis. This medical condition involves the inflammation of the pleura (the tissue layers) lining the inner chest wall and lungs. Pleurisy is connected with fluid accumulation between the two layers of the pleura, known as pleura effusion. Treatment of the condition involves pain control and attending to the underlying condition. However, there are natural remedies for pleurisy that you can try.
You will learn the following from this post:
- Meaning of pleurisy
- Causes of pleurisy
- Symptoms of pleurisy
- How to diagnose pleurisy
- Natural remedies for pleurisy
What is Pleurisy?
Pleurisy results from the inflammation of the pleura, which is a two-layered sac that firmly holds the lungs and separates them from the heart, diaphragm, and chest wall. The parietal pleura are the ones that line the inside of the chest, while the visceral pleura covers the lungs. If you are healthy, a thin line of fluid separates the pleura and enables the lungs to expand and contract while breathing effortlessly.
When the pleura is inflamed, a person may have pain with breathing, leading to a large amount of fluid buildup gathering in the pleural sac.
Pleurisy can either go away on its own without requiring any treatment, or it may worsen to a stage where the pleural fluid must be drained from around the lungs. In addition, some people develop adhesion (scar tissue) after experiencing pleurisy. Then chronic pain or shortness of breath may follow.
What Causes Pleurisy?
Many factors may cause pleurisy; some of them include the following:
- Trauma from broken ribs or bruises
- Gastrointestinal diseases, such as peritonitis, pancreatitis, or a collection of pus below the diaphragm
- Collages vascular diseases like sarcoid disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma
- Cancer such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, or cancer spread from other parts of the body
- Infectious diseases caused by bacteria, fungus, virus, parasites, or tuberculosis
Other causes of pleurisy include the following:
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Sickle cell disease
- Radiation therapy
- Blood clot in lung (pulmonary embolism)
Symptoms of Pleurisy
The signs and symptoms of pleurisy include the following:
- A fever – in few cases
- A cough – in some cases
- Shortness of breath – this happens when you are trying to minimize the rate at which you breathe in and out due to pain caused by breathing deeply
- Chest pain that gets worse when you sneeze, cough, or breathe
Pain resulting from pleurisy might become severe with the movement of your upper body. The pain can also radiate to your shoulders or back. Pleurisy may also come with conditions like empyema, atelectasis, or effusion.
- Empyema. The extra fluid may also become infected, causing an accumulation of pus. The condition is called empyema. Empyema often comes with fever.
- Atelectasis. When the fluid in the pleural space becomes too much, it can create enough pressure to compress your lungs to a level that it either partially or completely collapses. This result is called atelectasis. The lung collapse will make breathing difficult and might result in coughing – sometimes coughing out blood.
- Pleural effusion. In some cases, fluid builds up in the little space between the two layers of tissue. This buildup is called pleural effusion. Pleural pain reduces and disappears when there is a fair amount of fluid. This is because the two layers of pleura are no longer touching or rubbing together.
Your doctor will start the diagnostic procedures by asking you questions concerning your medical history. Then they will do a physical examination, such as using a stethoscope to examine your chest. For example, to find out if you have pleurisy and also determine its cause, your doctor might recommend the following:
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
This is a test that will monitor your heart. Your doctor might use it to rule out specific heart problems that may be a cause of your chest pain.
This method makes use of high-frequency sound waves to produce exact images of structures within your body. For example, your doctor may use the same ultrasound to find out whether you have a pleural effusion.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan
The job of a CT scan is to combine a couple of X-ray images taken from various angles around your body and use computer processing to produce different cross-sectional images that resemble slices of your chest. These images can display the condition of the pleura. It will also show if there are other causes of pain, for example, blood clots in the chest.
An X-ray carried out on your chest will show if your lungs are fully inflating or there is the presence of fluid or air between the ribs and lungs.
A blood test will let the doctor know if you have an infection. Further blood tests carried out on you may also detect an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis – two conditions whose initial sign might be pleurisy.
Process of Pleurisy Diagnosis
In some cases, your healthcare official may have to take out tissue and fluid from the pleural space and test them.
The procedures of doing this might include:
If your doctor suspects cancer or tuberculosis are the causes of your condition, they might perform a thoracoscopy (you can also call it pleuroscopy). Thoracoscopy requires a tiny camera (thoracoscope) inserted into your body through a small incision in your chest wall. This procedure will give the doctor a direct view inside your chest to find any abnormalities. It may be carried out to get a tissue sample (biopsy).
This procedure requires that your doctor inject a local anesthetic between your ribs to the location where fluid has been sighted on your imaging studies. Afterward, your doctor pushes a needle through your chest wall between your ribs to collect fluid for lab analysis and to make you breathe better. Again, your doctor may have to use ultrasound guidance to insert the needle into your body.
But with natural remedies for pleurisy, you may not have to go through this rigorous and painful process.
9 Natural Remedies for Pleurisy
While you may need to go deeper and tackle the real cause of pleurisy, various home remedies can help you deal with the condition and feel less pain. Consider the following natural remedies for pleurisy:
1. Lie Down On the Painful Side
You should talk to a doctor if you have chest pain. Some conditions that cause pleurisy may require medical attention. Your doctor will conduct the necessary tests to know the severity of your condition and what is causing it. Then he will let you know if home remedies are sufficient treatment.
Here is a tip that may help you reduce the pain caused by pleurisy. Even though it may seem a little bit odd, lying down on the particular site where you feel the pain can help you relieve the chest pain. This is because pressing down on that part restricts the movement of your chest wall.
Garlic is one of the highly-loved natural remedies for pleurisy that has been around for centuries. The organosulfur compounds available in garlic give it powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help it boost your immune system. Studies have shown that it can also act against bacteria that can cause chest infection. Most traditional rulers that understand the importance of this common condiment recommend having a clove of garlic on an empty stomach each day to reduce the pain associated with pleurisy. Consult your doctor before taking garlic to ensure that it does not interfere with any other medication you are using.
Evidence of the power of honey is present in the classic Hippocratic Corpus; there, honey is mentioned as an ancient treatment for pleurisy. Honey has properties that can help reduce inflammatory mediators like COX-2 and TNF-α and exert an anti-inflammatory effect. Further studies also show that honey can reduce the concentration of prostaglandin E2, a lipid mediator that contributes to inflammatory pain. Honey contains potent antimicrobial properties and can fight pathogens that may be responsible for lung infections, such as pneumonia.
4. Pleurisy Root Tea
Pleurisy root is otherwise called Asclepias tuberose, and it has been effective in tackling pain and inflammation associated with pleurisy. The root is also a natural treatment for respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. A pleurisy tincture or root should be taken 2-3 times each day. However, this herb is so strong that it may result in heart problems in some people. Consult your doctor before using pleurisy root.
5. Turmeric Milk
Turmeric is a spice popular for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can serve as an analgesic and may help relieve chest pain associated with pleurisy. Like honey, turmeric milk can also decrease prostaglandin E(2).
Studies have revealed that turmeric milk can act against bacteria that may cause lung infection. Boil turmeric powder in milk to create a healing cup of turmeric milk, or you can steep turmeric powder in hot water to make some turmeric tea. You can also increase the healing power of the tea by adding a dash of honey to sweeten it.
6. Ginger Tea
Ginger is another popular condiment that can help you battle pleurisy. Ginger contains some solid anti-inflammatory effects that can fight against the release of prostaglandin. Ginger can also act as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) by helping to ease inflammation and pain. Like turmeric, ginger, too, has an analgesic effect.
Ginger has the power to act against pathogens that could attack your respiratory tract and cause chest infections. Allow chopped ginger to simmer in water for about ten minutes and then strain to make your cup of tea.
Tulsi is a sacred herb in India. Both tulsi and holy basil are beneficial in many ways, and they can help you relieve pains associated with pleurisy. In addition, Tulsi has excellent analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. And just like some NSAIDs, tulsi is also a COX-2 inhibitor.
Tulsi is a natural remedy for tackling respiratory infections, and it has been used traditionally for this purpose for many years. It can inhibit pathogens that may cause chest infections. Get fresh tulsi leaves or steep the dried leaf in warm water to make a cup of tulsi tea.
8. Caraway Tea
Caraway seeds contain some pleasant aroma, and these seeds have helped deal with pleurisy. In addition, caraway contains a compound known as carvone which has some anti-inflammatory effects and can decrease the biosynthesis of prostaglandins.
Studies have revealed that caraway works as a natural analgesic, so it can help in relieving chest pain. Steep around a quarter to half a teaspoon of powdered and dried caraway seed in hot water to make a cup of lovely caraway tea and drink while still hot and fresh.
9. Slippery Elm
Herbal healers and traditionalists recommend slippery elm for pleurisy relief. Slippery elm has a soothing effect on chest infections, even if the infection has no relation to pleurisy. Although the effectiveness of slippery elm in treating pleurisy and the way it works is still largely unknown, research reveals that it can soothe sore throats. Therefore, slippery elm may perform wonders if your infection is associated with respiration. You can make an infusion of slippery elm by steeping it in hot water. You should drink the tea while it is still hot. You may add honey for a sweetening effect.
Besides following the natural remedies for pleurisy already mentioned above, there are some dietary guidelines a pleurisy patient should always follow. First and foremost, avoid eating fried food during the time you have the condition. It would be best if you also stayed away from eating cold food because it leads to phlegm gathering in the chest. Take as many bitter vegetables as you can – such vegetables include fenugreek or bitter gourd.
Most importantly, go to the hospital if you discover that you still experience symptoms of pleurisy even after trying the natural remedies for pleurisy.
The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only. Always consult your primary care doctor before using the remedies that are provided. The information is provided by The Hidden Cures and while we do timely, in-depth research on the information that we provide to you, everything stated may not be up to date or accurate from the time it was written.