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Thursday, May 23, 2013
Asthma and Pleurisy
can having pleurisy when you are young cause asthma a few years later?
The lungs are covered by a smooth outside layer of tissue called the "pleura." The inside lining of the rib cage/chest cavity is also covered with a smooth layer of pleural tissue. Normally, the lungs are fully expanded/inflated within the chest cavity, so that the outside of the lung and inside of the chest cavity (the two pleural surfaces) nearly touch. The only thing that keeps them from scraping against each other during the movement of breathing is a thin layer of fluid (pleural fluid) than in some ways acts like a lubricant. When all is well with this system, the lung and chest wall comfortably slide across each other during breathing.
If something causes these linings, or the fluid, to become inflamed/irritated/"roughed up," then the act of taking a breath will involved the lung and chest wall linings scraping against each other. The pain that this causes is called "pleurisy." There are many types of illness than cause pleurisy - ranging from infection (the most common reason to have it) to arthritis-like diseases to cancers.
Asthma is an illness that involves the tubing system that is deep within the lungs, and is involved with allowing passage of air from the mouth down into the alveoli/air sacs.
Although we do not know all the reasons a person develops asthma, having a problem with pleurisy (which involves a different part of the lung than asthma) is not typically linked with developing asthma later in life.
Elizabeth D Allen, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University