Pleural effusion is a disease caused by several disorders and is potentially life-threatening to sufferers. Symptoms of pleural effusion can mimic other respiratory problems, and the diagnosis to treatment of pleural effusion depends on the underlying cause.
What Is Pleural Effusion
Pleural effusion is a condition characterized by a buildup of fluid between the two layers of pleura. The pleura is a membrane that separates the lungs from the inner chest wall.
In general, pleural effusion is a disease that does not cause serious problems, but requires treatment to avoid problems that may arise. Normally, there is a small amount of fluid in the cavity that functions as a lubricant between the two pleura during lung movement when breathing.
The types of fluids that make up pleural effusion can be categorized as transudates or exudates.
- Transudates consist of plasma ultrafiltrates due to imbalance of vascular and oncotic hydrostatic forces in the chest (heart failure, cirrhosis).
- Exudate is usually produced by inflammation (lung infection, malignancy). Exudative pleural effusions are usually more serious and difficult to treat.
Causes of Pleural Effusion
The pleura is a thin membrane lining the surface of the lungs and the outer chest wall of the lungs. In pleural effusion, fluid builds up in the space between the pleural layers. Usually, there is indeed fluid in the pleural cavity, but the amount is only about 1 teaspoon in the pleural cavity.
In addition, there are several medical conditions that can cause pleural effusion. Here are some common causes of pleural effusion:
1. Liver or kidney disease
One of the diseases such as cirrhosis can be the cause of pleural effusion which is characterized by fluid accumulating in the body and leaking into the chest.
2. Congestive heart failure
The heart functions to pump blood properly, but when experiencing heart failure it can cause a buildup of fluid in the chest.
3. Autoimmune disorders
Disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can attack the lungs and cause pleural problems.
Respiratory infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia can develop and cause water buildup in the lungs.
5. Pulmonary embolism
Blockage of the pulmonary arteries caused by blood clots can cause pleura to produce too much fluid.
The cause of pleural effusion is usually lung cancer, although any cancer that has progressed to the lungs or pleura can be the cause.
In addition, complications from certain medical procedures can also trigger pleural effusion. A common cause of pleural effusion is heart surgery, but any surgery performed on the chest can also increase the risk of pleural effusion.
Risk factors for pleural effusion
The cause of pleural effusion by previous underlying medical problems, hence the emergence of this medical problem is a risk factor for pleural effusion. Keep in mind, that not everyone with this medical problem will experience pleural effusion. Congestive heart failure is the most common cause of transudative pleural effusion, while infection (pneumonia) and malignancy are the most common causes of exudative pleural effusion.
Symptoms of Pleural Effusion
Usually pleural effusion does not cause symptoms. Usually, symptoms of pleural effusion will appear when the pleura is moderate or large or if inflammation appears. The following are some of the signs of pleural effusion that may include:
- Hard to breathe
- Chest pain, especially in deep breathing (pleurisy, or pleuritic pain)
- Orthopnea (inability to breathe easily unless the sufferer stands erect)
- Dry cough
Although pleural effusion is generally caused by an underlying medical condition, some of the basic pleural effusion symptoms mentioned above also often appear.
Inability to breathe deeply or feel pain caused by breathing deeply.
Those who often experience hiccups or hiccups that do not disappear may also experience pleural effusion disease. While some people experience no symptoms of pleural effusion at all. They usually find out about fluid in the lungs after a physical examination for conditions not related to this disease.
Signs and symptoms of pleural effusion can also be confused with other lung disorders. If you experience symptoms, call your doctor immediately to get the right treatment.