Pleurisy / Pleurodynia (Paarshava Shoola)
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Introduction

 

Pleurisy is a very dangerous respiratory disorder which involves the lungs. Several eminent people have been affected from this disease, and even died from it. Pleurisy is not always a fatal condition. With proper medication and care, this disease can be treated quite effectively.

Definition of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

 

Pleurisy is the condition in which the pleural wall lining the lungs gets inflamed. It is an extremely painful condition that causes pain in the chest cavity even when inhaling and exhaling.

The pleura or the pleural wall is a double-layered membrane lining and protecting the lungs. The first layer of the pleura is present over the lungs and the second layer is just below the inner chest wall. Hence it can be said that the pleura lies in the little gap between the lungs and the chest.

Normally, the pleura is extremely smooth. This is due to the presence of a little amount of fluid called as pleural effusion in between the layers. Since its basic function is to protect the lungs, the two layers of the pleura produce no friction at all when they rub against each other. But when the pleural layers become inflamed, then when breathing, the pleural layers rub against each other. Due to this, the person feels extreme discomfort during breathing. Alternatively, the pleural effusion can increase tremendously in volume and this can also produce pain while moving the chest or while breathing.

Pleurisy is also known by several other names. Pleuritis and pleurodynia are some of the other names that are commonly used.

In Ayurveda , pleurisy is classified as a shoola, which means pain. The particular name for the pain caused due to pleurisy is paarshava shoola.

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Types of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

There are three chief types of pleurisy that are commonly observed. The following is a list detailing the three types:-

Dry Pleurisy

Dry Pleurisy occurs when the pleura is embedded with a fibrinous deposit. This can occur as a complication of the inflammation of the pleura.

Effusive Pleurisy

Effusive Pleurisy occurs when the space between the pleural layers get filled with a great volume of exuded fluids, i.e. pleural effusions.

Purulent Pleurisy

Purulent Pleurisy is the most dangerous type of pleurisy. In this complication, the space between the pleural layers is filled with dead cells, commonly known as pus.

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Causes of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

Pleurisy can be caused due to a host of factors. In fact, pleurisy itself is not classified as a disease. It is always the complication of some other disease. Some of the common diseases that are causative for pleurisy are as follows:-

Types of diseases that can cause pleurisy

Examples

Infectious diseases

  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia

Cancers

  • Mesothelioma, i.e. cancer of the pleura
  • Sarcoma

Vascular or Systemic diseases

  • Lupus
  • Sarcoid disease
  • Scleroderma
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure

Gastrointestinal diseases

  • Peritonitis
  • Pancreatitis

Apart from these, injuries such as broken ribs can also cause inflammation of the pleura. At least two drugs – penicillin and methotrexate – are linked with causing pleurodynia.

Pleurisy can be caused due to cancers or its therapies like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The accumulation of urea in the kidneys, i.e. uremia, is also a causative agent. People with sickle cell disease have a probability of developing pleurisy.

Though several of the factors are known to medical science, there are yet several unknown reasons that can cause pleurisy. All these are collectively known as idiopathic causes of pleurisy.

According to Ayurveda , pleurisy can be caused due to both – a vitiation of the vata dosha as well as a vitiation of the kaphadosha. Hence, pleurisy has to be treated with much care and precaution.

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Symptoms of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

The symptoms of pleurisy are quite definitive and cannot be confused with the symptoms of other chest complaints. The chief symptom is the stabbing pain that is felt in the chest. The following are the chief features of the pain in pleurisy:-

The pain is felt very acutely when the person is either inhaling or exhaling. When the person holds his or her breath, then there is no pain felt.

The pain is felt when the person moves his or her chest.

The pain is felt generally on only one side of the chest. In some people, the pain can spread to the abdominal or the shoulder area.

Any vigorous thoracic movement makes the pain very sharp. Hence the person feels more pain when coughing, sneezing or even laughing.

Applying mild pressure on the focal point of the pain provides temporary relief from the pain.

Apart from the unique pain, people with pleurisy may notice the following symptoms:-

  • The person may run a high temperature from time to time.
  • There will be shortness of breath and gasping; so much so that the person may find difficulty in breathing itself.

Pleurisy pains sometimes show a decreasing trend, i.e. they may be sharper in the beginning, but reduce later on. This is because over time the buildup of the pleural effusion takes place, which reduces the friction of the two layers of the pleura. However it must be kept in mind that the reduction of the pain does not mean that the pleurisy is healed by itself; in fact, it is getting worsened to a more incurable condition.

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Complications of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

One of the important complications of pleurisy is that the person may lose his or her appetite frequently. Due to insufficient fiber in the diet, there could be complaints of constipation. Constipation makes pleurisy almost unbearable as the person might need to apply pressure on the bowels while passing stools; thus exerting the pleura.

However the most dangerous complication of pleurisy is the inability to breathe, which can set in after some time. Due to the pain, the person finds difficulty every time there is an inhalation or an exhalation. Furthermore, when the effusion begins to build up in the pleura, more pressure is felt onto the lungs, due to which breathing becomes more difficult. People with severe respiratory complaints must waste no time at all; they must be rushed to the ER of a hospital.

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Transmission of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

Pleurisy is not an infectious or a contagious disease. It is a condition caused due to an internal problem. Hence, pleurisy cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

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People who are at Risk of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

Pleurisy is caused due to a host of other ailments with the body. People suffering from any of these diseases can suffer from pleurisy. In order to see a complete list of the diseases in people that can cause pleurisy, look at the causes section.

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Prevention and Basic Care during Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

Pleurisy is an internal problem of the human body and hence there is no measure you can take in order to prevent it. For this reason, it can be said that pleurisy is unpreventable. However, several things can be done to stop the symptoms of pleurisy from aggravating further. The following things are some of the more important ones:-

Avoid exerting yourself. Do not involve yourself in activities that would make you physically tired.

Do not breathe deeply.

Make a habit of sleeping on the side where the pain is less.

Avoid all painkillers, including ibuprofen and aspirin, until you get a go-ahead from a qualified medical practitioner. This is because people with chest pains believe that painkillers can relieve the pain and take them. However, painkillers can drastically worsen the chest congestion.

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Diet for People with Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

Pleurisy is a condition that could be fatal if neglected. There are several dietary restrictions to be observed. The following are the important dietary guidelines:-

Fried foods must be totally avoided.

Cold foods must also be avoided. The reason for this is, cold foods can cause an accumulation of phlegm in the chest, which could aggravate the situation.

Bitter vegetables are best in pleurisy conditions. These include vegetables such as bitter gourd and fenugreek.

Other vegetables that can be taken without any harm are eggplants, okra, cauliflower, cabbage and potato.

A diet of horse gram with rice is suggested for people with pleurisy problems.

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Ayurvedic Treatment of Pleurisy (Paarshava Shoola)

Pleurisy is a very difficult condition to treat and medical science has failed to find a permanent cure for the disease yet. Currently, the method of treating pleurisy is to treat the underlying condition that causes the chest congestion.

But in Ayurveda , there are a few select herbs that have been effectively used to treat some of the symptoms of pleurisy, or at least to ease the pain. This is quite beneficial, because patients with pleurisy are not allowed to take any painkillers or allopathic drugs that could aggravate the symptoms further. The Ayurvedic herbs mentioned below can be safely used, without any side-effects on the patient’s health.

Ayurvedic Name of the Herb

Biological Name of the Herb

Common English Name of the Herb

Action on the Human Body

Ajmoda

Apium graveolens

Celery

Celery has anti-spasmodic properties, due to which it is used to relieve the stabbing pains that pleurisy causes. It is included in the normal diet of the patient, or is given in the form of a salad with the other permissible vegetables.

Alsi

Linum usitassimum

Linseed

Linseed is used for external application on the chest of the people with pleurisy complaints. In order to apply, a loose poultice of the seeds is made and gently rubbed over the affected region of the chest.

Punarnava

Boerhaavia diffusa

Hog Weed

Hog weed is used in the treatment of pleurisy. Its root is the part which is used in the treatment.

The herbs mentioned above have been expertly mixed into preparations. These preparations contain just the right proportions of herbs so as not to produce major side effects. The following are some herbs that are effective in the treatment of pleurisy:-

Type of Preparation

Name of Preparation

Asava/Arishta

Vasa Arishta, Bala Arishta

Bhasma/Kashaya

Vasa Kashaya, Dashamula Kwatha, Shringa Bhasma

Choorna

Hinguvachadi Choorna, Hinguvasta Choorna

Ghrita

Vasadi Ghrita

Lehya

Kasturyadi Lehya, Vasava Lehya

Rasa

Tribhuvana Kirti Rasa, Mahalaxmi Vilasa Rasa, Rasa Sindoora

Vati

Kasturyadi Vati, Hinguvachadi Vati

One very effective medicine in the treatment of pleurisy is Shringa Bhasma. Shringa Bhasma is actually the horn of a deer cut into small pieces and processed, and finally burnt into ashes. Giving this Bhasma to the patient thrice or four times a day in amounts of half a gram each time mixed with honey provides relief. The time taken for the relief depends on the acuteness of the pain.

This same Bhasma can be improved in case there is complication of effusive pleurisy. In such cases, the Shringa Bhasma is mixed with Naradiya Laxmivilasa and taken in the same dosage.

For pleurisy accompanied with cough and phlegm in the chest, Rasa Sindoora must be added to the same mixture of Shringa Bhasma and Naradiya Laxmivilasa mentioned above.

Hence, there is a specific preparation for each of the different types of pleurisy. But these medicines are quite strong and hence the medication should be stopped immediately after the symptoms disappear. At least Rasa Sindoora must be stopped with the decline of the symptoms.

It must be borne in mind that while taking any Ayurvedic preparation, the doctor must be consulted first. Most of the herbs do not have any side-effects (and are indeed a regular part of the diet), but some people may be allergic to certain herbs and may show adverse reactions.

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Comment Script

Comments

helpful...thanks
#1 - kb. - 04/03/2011 - 15:37
I've just been diagnosed with pleurisy and reading this page really helped me a lot.Thank you.
#2 - Nomsa - 09/21/2011 - 07:38
I didn't know pleurisy could be so serious. I've had it off and on over the years. I also have COPD and have daily treatment for it. Right now, I have the worse case of pleurisy in the lower parts of my lungs, both sides, that I have ever had.
#3 - Jeanette - 12/22/2012 - 08:00
Thank you this article helped this explained the chronic sharp pain in my chest & shoulder that suddenly occured and hurt when I drew breath before reading the article I thought I was having a heart attack!
#4 - Jenny - 03/13/2013 - 23:21
my pain is so severe. both my parents died of lung cancer. my day had pleurisy, before his cancer diagnosis. i've taken antibiotics and steroids also had a clear x-ray, no pnemonia. but the pain doesn't stop or let up. getting up and down from a chair or in and out of bed.
#5 - laurie pence - 04/01/2013 - 15:54
I have been diaognosed with pleurisy but each comment I have read appears to have chest pains - when mine started it was in my side towards the back and also in my shoulder.
my antibiotics finished last week and the pain seemed to go but in the last day or so the pain has returned although any coughing sneezing is now doable without so much pain.
about three/four weeks ago I injured my ribs and I wonder if that has got something to do with the pain? what do you think?
#6 - Ina - 04/21/2013 - 17:42
my father hafe body paralayez right sit he fill pain electric shot finger and shoulder please sent me treatment, any solution
#7 - kashif - 05/13/2013 - 18:29
I am going through radiation and chemo, yesterday as well as last Monday i was in the emergency room for sharp, unrelenting chest pain. Ct with contrast done, no clots or pneumonia. The pain is on right side under breast and extends up shoulder to neck as well down lower region of back. So... Yesterday dr told me it was pleurisy. I was given an rx for motrin and norco. I'm still in great pain, and need to see oncologist due to radiation and chemo being the cause. It gets so bad to the point i can not lift my right arm comfortably. I no longer want to feel like this, at what choice do i have knowing that i need to continue radiation and chemo to survive. All these other side effects in the first 3 weeks of treatment have left me with collapsed veins, severe dehydration and other unspeakable pain. This chest pain that has come about so sudden is unbearable.
#8 - scared - 09/30/2013 - 03:29
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