Signs and Symptoms of Pleurisy

The primary symptom of pleurisy is sharp, stabbing chest pain. In some cases, pleurisy can cause a constant, dull ache in the chest. Pleurisy pain may extend into the shoulder or back and often is worse when taking deep breaths, coughing, sneezing, or moving. Pain may be less severe when taking shallow breaths or when lying on the affected side.

Other symptoms of pleurisy depend on the type and severity of the underlying condition. These symptoms include the following:

  • Cough (may be a dry cough or may produce mucus or blood)
  • Fever and chills (caused by infection)
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Shortness of breath (e.g., as a result of increased pleural fluid that puts pressure on the lungs)
  • Sore throat

In severe cases, pleurisy can lead to complications (e.g., pleural effusion, pneumothorax, hemothorax). These conditions can cause difficulty breathing.

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

Published: 19 Oct 2008

Last Modified: 01 Oct 2015