Pleurisy is a condition that affects the pleura, a bilayer membrane that covers the lung surface. There are several known types of pleurisy or pleuritis, including purulent pleurisy, serous-fibrinous pleurisy, dry pleurisy and haemorrhagic pleurisy. There are two main causes of pleurisy, namely pleural effusion and dryness of the pleura. As for the abundance or lack of fluid being secreted in the pleural membrane, it may be the result of an inflammation, injury or infectious disease, such as tuberculosis or pneumonia. Finally, certain cancers that spread to the lungs can also cause pleurisy.
Regardless of the type of pleurisy, a characteristic symptom of this condition is chest pain. The pain intensifies along with the breathing rhythm and becomes especially acute during coughing or sneezing. If pleurisy is caused by a lung infection, dry coughs, headaches, loss of appetite, fever or chills may occur. Some more serious complications caused by respiratory problems can cause the skin to turn pale or may lead to profuse sweating. The patient may also have bluish lips and swollen eyelids.
The manifestation of pleural pain is not the same in all patients suffering from pleurisy. The same applies to the factors that could increase or decrease pain. Nevertheless, in almost all cases of pleurisy, Bryonia is the most commonly used remedy, and is generally administered in 15 CH-dilution. In case the Bryonia-based treatment fails, Abrotanum 3 to 30 CH can be prescribed, depending on the symptoms. But to reduce pain in the inflammation’s early stages, hourly intakes of Aconite 4 CH are often recommended. The treatment needs to be stopped as soon as the patient sweats abundantly or after 12 hours of consecutive intakes.
In case of sero-fibrinous pleurisy, effusion in the pleura can worsen. It is characterized by severe pain and breathing difficulties. If breathing hot air increases the pain, Apis Mellifica 5 CH is indicated. One can also take Arsenicum Album 4 CH, especially if the effusion does not appear immediately after the chest pain. But in case of severe symptoms accompanied by an abundant effusion, profuse perspiration and cloudy urine, Cantharis 5 CH may be prescribed. Finally, in case of purulent effusion, the affected person may be administered Veratrum viride 5 CH, Hepar Sulphur 5 CH or Naja 4 CH.
Sometimes, pleurisy and is resistant to some treatments may evolve to a chronic form of the disease. The pain is then difficult to relieve and chest tightness becomes increasingly oppressive. Specific remedies to treat this type of pleurisy are usually Sulphur iodatum-based, and are often recommended for treating certain forms of bronchitis as well as pneumonia characterized by sensations of suffocation. Thus, a weekly dose of Sulphur iodatum 15 CH can be taken over the course of two or three months. To speed up the treatment’s effects, it is often advisable to use it in combination with other remedies.
Generally, simple breathing difficulties should lead to a medical consultation. But one should not hesitate to seek medical attention in case of dry cough accompanied by chest pain. It is also recommended to undergo a medical examination as soon as feel shortness of breath or unusual fatigue is felt at the slightest effort. Finally, it is advisable to seek further medical attention if the previous treatments have proved to be ineffective.
Good to know: Homoeopathy can be used efficiently in the treatment of several respiratory conditions. However, in the case of pleurisy of infectious origin, it is often essential to supplement the homoeopathic treatment with allopathy.