Pleurisy in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Pleurisy is inflammation of the tissue that lines the inside of the chest and covers the lungs (pleura). Pleurisy is often caused by an infection, usually a virus. It also can be caused by other health problems, such as pneumonia or lupus. Pleurisy can cause sharp chest pain that gets worse when your child coughs or takes a deep breath.

Your child may need more tests to find out what is causing the pleurisy. Treatment depends on the cause. Pleurisy may come and go for a few days, or it may continue if the cause has not been treated. Home treatment can help ease symptoms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give your child an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Be careful with cough and cold medicines. Don't give them to children younger than 6, because they don't work for children that age and can even be harmful. For children 6 and older, always follow all the instructions carefully. Make sure you know how much medicine to give and how long to use it. And use the dosing device if one is included.
  • Have your child avoid activities that make the pain worse.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has severe trouble breathing.
  • Your child has severe chest pain.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has difficulty breathing.
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.
  • Your child coughs up blood.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child begins to cough up mucus more deeply or more often.
  • Your child is not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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