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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. It is most often due to a viral infection or pneumonia. It usually lasts for 10–14 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.

Home care

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

  1. If symptoms are severe, rest at home for the first 2–3 days.

  2. Avoid being exposed to cigarette smoke (yours or that of others).

  3. You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your doctor or as advised if you do not improve over the next week.

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Increasing shortness of breath

  • Increase in chest pain, or pain spreads to the neck, arm or back

  • Fever over 100.4ºF (38.0ºC) for more than three days

  • Coughing up lots of colored sputum (mucus) or blood

  • Redness, pain or swelling of the leg


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