Pleural Effusion – Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment


Having a pleural effusion is no laughing matter. It can be life-threatening, and there are treatments available for the condition. Learn about the signs and symptoms, and what to do if you have a pleural effusion. Also learn about the causes and diagnosis. In some cases, a pleural effusion can be a sign of an infection.

Treatment options

There are a few different types of treatment for pleural effusion. Some people suffer from a single effusion, while others may have multiple effusions. Either way, it can be uncomfortable to breathe. Treatment for pleural effusion depends on the cause of the pleural fluid and the symptoms. If left untreated, pleural effusions may recur.

Pleural effusions can be classified as either empyema or complex parapneumonic effusion. The former is a type of infection with visible pus, while the latter is characterized by the absence of pus. Complex effusions have internal septae and loculations. A poorly draining empyema is called an uniloculated effusion. In either type, antibiotic therapy is the first line of treatment.

Pleural effusions can be painful and uncomfortable. Depending on the underlying cause, the fluid may be caused by an infection, inflammation, or tumor. The fluid may be present for only a short time, or it may be present for long periods of time. If left untreated, pleural effusions can lead to more serious health complications. Treatment options for pleural effusions can include draining the fluid, or more invasive procedures.

Signs and symptoms

There are many conditions that can cause a pleural effusion, and the signs and symptoms will vary depending on the underlying cause. A pleural effusion can be a symptom of lung infection or cancer. If you experience chest pain or difficulty breathing, you should see a doctor.

Other signs and symptoms of pleural effusion are low oncotic pressure, elevated pulmonary capillary pressure, and diminished negative intrapleural pressure. However, in the majority of cases, the cause of a pleural effusion remains unknown. Some physicians may believe that an effusion is caused by a viral infection or by an obstruction of lymphatic vessels.

Symptoms of pleural effusion can include breathlessness, chest pain, and cough. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical exam, including a stethoscope to listen to your lungs. X-rays are also a valuable tool in the diagnosis of a pleural effusion.


Pleural effusion is a collection of fluid in the pleural cavity and can have a variety of causes. Symptoms can be similar to other conditions, so it is important to know what to look for to determine the exact cause. These fluid collections are usually classified as exudates or transudates, and are diagnosed with a physical exam and chest x-ray. Further tests may be necessary, such as thoracentesis and pleural fluid analysis. While asymptomatic transudates may not require treatment, symptomatic transudates will usually require thoracentesis and/or pleurectomy.

If left untreated, pleural effusion can compromise circulation and breathing. In addition, it can be a symptom of a more serious condition. Treatment for this condition will involve treating the underlying disease, as well as the symptoms of the pleural effusion. During the process, a chest tube will be inserted to drain the fluid and pus collections.


Diagnosis of pleural effusions requires a multidisciplinary approach and consideration of many factors. Although they are often asymptomatic and harmless, they can be a symptom of underlying diseases. Diagnosis of pleural effuses is therefore crucial, since the cause of the condition determines its treatment and prognosis. We reviewed relevant publications and our own experience to make the most informed decisions.

Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid between the layers of tissue in the chest. The body naturally produces this fluid and uses it to lubricate the surfaces of the pleura. The pleura is a thin membrane that lines the chest cavity and surrounds the lungs. However, in certain cases, the fluid becomes abnormally large and causes symptoms of pleural effusion. These symptoms may include chest pain, difficulty breathing and cough.


The treatment of pleural effusion involves the removal of the fluid and tissue from the lung. A pleural biopsy is usually needed to rule out mesothelioma or other conditions resulting in the fluid accumulation. Patients who have this condition should be carefully monitored and treated promptly. Symptoms can be life-threatening if untreated, and prompt treatment can save the patient’s life.

Non-specific symptoms may include chest pain or dyspnea. A history and physical examination can help narrow the differential diagnosis.

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