Pleurisy: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

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 you cough or take a deep breath.

You may need more tests to find out what is causing your 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 treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take 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.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Take cough medicine as directed if your doctor recommends it.
  • Avoid activities that make the pain worse.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have severe chest pain.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

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

  • You have difficulty breathing.
  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • You cough up blood.

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

  • You begin to cough up mucus more deeply or more often.
  • You are not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

Enter F346 in the search box to learn more about "Pleurisy: Care Instructions".