Healthy Living

What Causes Pleurisy?

What Causes Pleurisy?

Pleurisy can be caused by a number of things. The causes of pleurisy are described below.


Infections are most common cause of pleurisy. The most common infection to result in pleurisy is a viral infection. However, any type of organism has the ability and potential to reach the pleural membranes.

The common viruses that may cause pleurisy are:

  • Epstein Barr virus
  • Influenza virus
  • Cytomegalovirus – A common virus seen in many individuals but usually does not cause any clinical features.
  • The parainfluenza virus.

Bacterial organisms can also cause pleurisy and the most common bacteria that lead to pleurisy include:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae – The bacterium that causes pneumonia in many people and skin infections like impetigo and cellulitis in others.
  • Staphylococci bacteria – These bacteria often causes food poisoning, skin infections and sepsis.

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a common causative bacterium that may be responsible for pleurisy in many of the hospitalized patients. MRSA is a type of bacterium that has undergone several mutations and become resistant to several antibiotics and therefore will be harder to treat conditions caused by MRSA organisms.

Pulmonary Embolism

A blood clot in the lungs is known as pulmonary embolism. It is another common cause of pleurisy. These patients will develop a sudden sharp chest pain. This is a serious condition which may lead to the death of a person within minutes and therefore if anyone develops a sudden severe sharp chest pain, should go to a hospital as soon as possible. This condition can progressively worsen over the time and can become very dangerous.

Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are diseases where out body begins to attack our own cells mistakenly. This may eventually lead to damage of the lungs and pleurisy. It is important that doctors look carefully into these autoimmune conditions and treat them as early as possible and get them under control before complications like pleurisy develop.


Although tuberculosis is not as much common as before, cases of tuberculosis are not very uncommon. Most of the cases with tuberculosis have progressed on to develop complications like pleurisy as well.  

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer developed as a result of smoking and various other causes may lead to pleurisy. Some types of lymphoma develop on the lining of the lungs also cause pleurisy which is often very difficult to treat. It is not uncommon to see patients with such cases that was not treatable. This has caused the individuals to live with pleuritic chest pain their whole lives.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease causes inflammation of the bowels as well as the other surrounding organs. Sometimes this inflammation can affect your lungs as well, eventually leading to pleurisy. This inflammation can eventually lead to the build-up of fluid, blood or other material within the pleural cavity, causing severe discomfort and pain.


Mesothelioma is a lung disease that can be caused by exposure to asbestos. This condition is very difficult to treat due to the presence of tiny asbestos particles within the lung. These can affect patients with lifelong pleurisy and therefore will have to live with the pleuritic chest pain

Key Takeaways

  • Infections are the most common cause of pleurisy.
  • A blood clot to the lungs is known as pulmonary embolism.
  • Most cases of tuberculosis have progressed to develop complications like pleurisy as well.