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Illustration of the chest showing position of the lungs and pleura.

If you have pleurisy, the lining around your lungs is inflamed. This is most often due to a viral infection or pneumonia. It usually lasts for 10 to 14 days. It may cause sharp pain with breathing, coughing, sneezing, and movement. Antibiotics are usually not prescribed for this condition unless pneumonia is also present.

The following tips will help you care for your condition at home:

  • If symptoms are severe, rest at home for the first 2 to 3 days. When you resume activity, don't let yourself get too tired.

  • Do not smoke. Also avoid being exposed to secondhand smoke.

  • You may use over-the-counter medicines to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. (Note: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or have ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Also talk to your provider if you are taking medicine to prevent blood clots.) Aspirin should never be given to anyone younger than 18 years of age who is ill with a viral infection or fever. It may cause severe liver or brain damage.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever over 100.4ºF (38ºC)

  • Coughing up lots of colored sputum (mucus)

  • Redness, pain, or swelling of the leg

Call 911, or get immediate medical care

Contact emergency services right away if any of these occur:

  • Increasing shortness of breath

  • Increasing chest pain, or pain that spreads to the neck, arm, or back

  • Coughing up blood


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