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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders


The main symptom of pleurisy is sharp or stabbing chest pain. The pain gets worse when you breathe in deeply, cough, or sneeze.

The pain may stay in one place or spread to your shoulders or back. Sometimes the pain becomes a fairly constant dull ache.

Depending on the cause of the pleurisy, you may have other symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath or rapid, shallow breathing
  • Coughing
  • Fever and chills
  • Unexplained weight loss


The symptoms of a pneumothorax include:

  • Sudden, sharp chest pain that gets worse when you breathe in deeply or cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue (tiredness) that comes on easily
  • A rapid heart rate
  • A bluish tint to the skin (caused by lack of oxygen)

Other symptoms of pneumothorax include flaring of the nostrils; anxiety, stress, and tension; and hypotension (low blood pressure).

Pleural Effusion

A pleural effusion often has no symptoms. However, the disorder may cause shortness of breath or chest discomfort.


The symptoms of a hemothorax often are similar to those of a pneumothorax. They include:

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Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders, visit

September 21, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.