Two layers of thin membrane, called the pleura, cover your lungs. The two membranes normally touch each other. But sometimes the space between the membranes, called the pleural space, fills up with air or fluid.
Fluid in the pleural space is called pleural effusion. Air in the pleural space is called pneumothorax.
A fluid build-up is called an effusion. So, a pleural effusion is a build-up of fluid in your pleural space.
A pleural effusion may be caused by many different problems such as an infection, tumor, or injury
The fluid may be watery or have blood or pus in it
You may have shortness of breath and chest pain, especially when you breathe deeply or cough
Doctors can see a pleural effusion on a chest x-ray or ultrasound
Doctors will treat the problem that’s causing the pleural effusion and may drain the fluid with a needle
Doctors will treat the problem that’s causing your pleural effusion. For example, if you have a lung infection, you may get antibiotics.
If there's only a little bit of fluid, doctors may:
If there's a lot of fluid, or if the fluid makes it hard to breathe, doctors may:
They put the needle or tube in through the side of your chest between two ribs. If fluid builds up again after it’s drained, sometimes they leave a small tube in your chest to keep the fluid draining.
If the fluid was caused by a cancer, doctors may put a drug or other substance in through the tube. The drug irritates the pleura and causes them to scar together so that fluid can't build up.