Causes and Risk Factors for Pleurisy

Pleurisy can develop as a complication of several conditions. In some cases, the condition is idiopathic (i.e., occurs with no known cause). The most common cause for pleurisy is viral infection (e.g., influenza, pneumonia).

Other causes include the following:

  • Adverse drug reactions (e.g., to blood pressure medications, heart medications, tuberculosis medications)
  • Autoimmune inflammatory diseases (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma)
  • Bacterial, fungal, or parasitic lung infections (e.g., tuberculosis, bacterial pneumonia)
  • Cancer (e.g., lung cancer, lymphoma)
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases (e.g., pancreatitis, peritonitis, inflammatory bowel disease [IBD])
  • Inhaled toxins (e.g., cleaning agents, asbestos)
  • Lung diseases (e.g., sarcoidosis, mesothelioma)
  • Pulmonary embolism (formation of a blood clot in the lungs)
  • Trauma (e.g., rib fractures, chest tube irritation, heart surgery)

Patients who have an underlying respiratory condition are at increased risk for developing pleurisy.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 19 Oct 2008

Last Modified: 01 Oct 2015