What It Means By “Water On The Lungs”?

A condition in which two large and thin tissue layers that work to separate your lungs area from the chest walls start becoming inflamed refers to pleurisy. These tissue layers that perform the task of separation of chest walls and lungs are called pleura.

It is also known as pleuritis. It causes sharp chest pain or pleuritic pain that becomes worse during breathing. One pleural tissue layer wraps outside your lungs. Other pleural layers are present in the inner wall of the chest. A small space called pleural space is present between these two layers.

A small amount of fluid is present in this space. These layers act as smooth satin pieces that glide each other and allow the lungs to contract and expand when you breathe. In the condition of pleurisy, these tissues become inflamed and start swelling.

As a result, these two pleural membrane layers rub against each other just like sand paper’s two pieces and induce pain when you inhale and exhale. 

When you hold your breath, the pleuritic pain becomes less or stops. Control of pain and treating underlying conditions are included in the treatment of pleurisy.


Symptoms of pleurisy are given below.

  • Chest pain that becomes worse when you sneeze, breathe, or cough
  • A fever in few cases
  • A cough in some cases
  • Breath shortness when people try to minimize the amount of breath in and out

Pleurisy can cause worsening pain with upper body movement. It can radiate into the area of your back or shoulders. Other conditions that are associated with pleurisy are atelectasis, empyema, and pleural effusion.

Pleural Effusion

Fluid builds up in the minor space between the two tissue layers in some cases. It is called pleural effusion. Pleuritic pain disappears or less when fluid is present in a fair amount. The reason is that two pleura layers are not connected and do not rub against each other.


A large fluid amount in pleural space creates pressure that compresses your lungs to the point that it collapses completely or partially. This condition is known as atelectasis. It makes breathing and causes coughing.


Extra fluid sometimes becomes an infection and causes accumulation of pus. It is called empyema. It is often accompanied by the condition of fever.

If you are experiencing intense, unexplained pain of the chest during breathing then call your doctor. You may have issues with your heart, lungs, or pleura, or any underlying illness which is necessary to examine.


Different conditions can lead to pleurisy. These causes are:

  • Bacterial infections like pneumonia
  • Viral infections such as influenza
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Fungal infection
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Autoimmune disorders like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Trauma or rib fracture
  • Inherited diseases like sickle cell disease
  • Certain medications


Following tests are used to diagnose and evaluate the condition of pleural effusion.

  • Chest x-ray
  • Ultrasound of chest
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan of the area of the chest
  • Thoracentesis in which doctors insert a need between your ribs to remove a sample of fluid or biopsy
  • Pleural fluid analysis, an examination of removed fluid from the space of the pleura


Pleural effusion treatment is associated with the severity of the respiratory system and underlying causes. For example, if you are experiencing severe shortness of breath or issues with breathing then you need immediate medical care.

Heart failure and diuretic medications are commonly used for the treatment of pleural effusion that is caused by congestive failure of the heart or other medical conditions. Malignant effusion needs treatment also with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Doctors sometimes infuse medicines within the chest for treating malignant effusion. Therapeutic thoracentesis may be used to treat pleural effusion that is inducing respiratory symptoms in people. A chest tube may be used to treat this condition that is known as tube thoracostomy.

Doctors instilled a sclerosing agent into the human pleural cavity with the help of a tube thoracostomy in order to create pleural fibrosis. It is used to treat patients who have uncontrollable symptoms of pleural effusion. Malignancy despite drainage can also cause recurrence of symptoms.

In this case, the same procedure is used for the treatment. Sclerosing agents are used for treating pleural sclerosis. Examples of these agents are tetracycline, talc, and doxycycline. It is helpful in controlling the recurrence of the symptoms of pleural effusions.

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