Fluids on the chest

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Have you ever experienced difficulty in breathing? While breathing is supposed to be the easiest process your body does, many people face difficulty to perform this simple task. People with lung and airway disorders mostly. Pleural effusion is one of these disorders and this article addresses this matter in depth.


Pleural effusion, aka water on the lungs is a very common case that is caused by different reasons. Statistics show that out of every 100000 people there are 320 of them who get fluids on their lungs. In other words, approximately 1.5 million pleural effusions are diagnosed each year. So why is this phenomenon so common? What is the treatment for it? And most importantly how do we prevent it from happening to us?


This article is to help you understand pleural effusion in depth. We are here to answer most of your questions and if we couldn't, one of our highly recommended doctors, definitely will.

So let us start with the different nickname for it:

Pleural effusion is the name you hear from your doctor but between non-medical people, it is known as water in the lungs or fluid in the chest.

For sure you wonder how does the pleural effusion looks like on the inside of your body or in an X-Ray image, we have prepared many pictures for that matter. Check out the images below and decide to wither it is easy to detect or not.

Pleural effusion (PE) or commonly known as fluid in the chest or water in the lung is the medical condition occurred when an excessive buildup of fluid accumulates in the space between lungs and chest cavity due to medical disease. In the USA, a million cases of pleural effusion are discovered every year, where 15% of those patients hospitalized pass away within 30 days only.

In the pleural effusion, pleura creates too much fluid especially when irritated, inflamed, or infected. This fluid accumulates in the chest cavity outside the lung, causing what’s known as a pleural effusion. There are several causes of pleural effusion including:

• Lung cancer in men,

• Breast cancer in women,

• Congestive heart failure,

• Poor liver function “cirrhosis”,

• Pulmonary embolism,

• Complications from open-heart surgery,

• Pneumonia,

• Severe kidney disease and

• Autoimmune diseases.




Different types of pleural effusion:

There is not only one type for this lung airways disorder are several types of pleural effusion upon different classifications, including: transudative vs. exudative, and complicated vs. uncomplicated. Here are more details:

1. Transudative pleural effusion

It occurs due to fluid leaking into the pleural space because of congestive heart failure as a result of either a low blood protein count or increased pressure in the blood vessels.

2. Exudative pleural effusion

This kind occurs because of pulmonary embolisms, pneumonia, and fungal infections as a result of either blocked lymph or blood vessels, inflammation, tumors, and lung injury.

3. Complicated pleural effusion

This type of pleural effusion when the fluid contains significant infection or inflammation, so it requires prompt treatment involving chest drainage.

4. Uncomplicated pleural effusion:

This is the case when pleural effusions contain fluid without signs of infection or inflammation, which almost causes permanent lung problems.

The Diagnosis:

In order to diagnose pleural effusion, your doctor will perform many examinations such as a physical examination in which he would be listening to your lungs using a stethoscope which is a medical instrument for listening to the action of someone's heart or breathing, typically having a small disc-shaped resonator that is placed against the chest, and two tubes connected to earpieces. They may also order a chest X-ray to help diagnose pleural effusion. Other possible tests could include:

• CT scan

• chest ultrasound

• pleural fluid analysis

• bronchoscopy

• pleural biopsy

The infected people with pleural effusion may show no signs or symptoms. And it is for that reason, doctors may ask their patients to do chest X-rays, CT scans, or physical examinations to diagnose the disease.

Definitely, by now you would be asking yourself what are the symptoms of the pleural effusion?

The common symptoms of pleural effusion include:

• Patients may experience chest pain,

• In addition to difficulty in breathing deeply or when lying down.

• It also causes shortness of breath,

• A dry cough is expected in the case of pleural effusion

• Patients may also experience high temperature or fever

• Persistent hiccups are common

• Difficulty with physical activity.

All of the mentioned symptoms could cause you to worry and discomfort but luckily - praise be the science and medical researches – it could be treated in more than one way:

The treatment of pleural effusion requires doctor intervention and the patient may be hospitalized. The sooner the detection of this disease would have a higher chance of treatment and recovery. So here are the three treatments that your doctor is likely to suggest they include three main options:

Draining fluid, pleurodesis and surgery. in other words here is how:

1. Your doctor’s first option will usually be draining the fluids from your chest cavity either with a needle or using a small specific tube. This treatment definitely requires getting anesthetic- unless you can bare undergoing it consciously- before the procedure. You will be given certain medication after the procedure to relieve your pain. It could be- the procedure- repeated if the fluid buildup again or if the liquid is due to - God forbids -cancer.

2. The second option is a bit hard to pronounce it is called pleurodesis, in more details, it is a treatment that creates mild inflammation between the lung and chest cavity pleura. After drawing the excess fluid, a doctor injects a drug of talc mixture to create two layers of the pleura to prevent future buildup of fluid. This could be a very good preventive measure to prevent the repetition of fluid buildup.


3. For the final treatment option, your doctor in many serious cases will have to do surgery. This surgery will be performed by inserting a shunt, or small tube, into the chest cavity in order to redirect the fluid from the chest into the abdomen or your stomach in other words. This is usually your doctors' last suggestion or option and will only be used when other treatments are ineffective.



Doctors usually recommend you do check-ups every three to 6 months because the periodic medical checks would help you always in detecting diseases and illnesses at early stages and getting proper treatment and when you do, your chances of recovering increase. Pleural effusion is a lung airway disorder and it is one of the conditions that occur as a consequence of other diseases especially lung cancer for men, breast cancer for women and congestive heart failure for both. According to the type of pleural effusion and its stage, the doctor will decide either to drain fluid, do pleurodesis, or surgery.


We understand if this makes you feel confused or frightened a little, fortunately, our platform enables you to connect with UAE’s most competent doctors who will help you in every step of the way. Of course, now you will google doctors in your area to be ensured. You don’t need to re-navigate book your next appointment here.

If not, then this article must have inspired you to book your next medical check-up, and our search engine does provide it for you.

Do you have a question that we haven’t answered yet? Leave your question in the comment section below and if you know anyone who could benefit from this information, share the article with them and spread the word. Against diseases and unlike what Cerci from games of throne believed, “Knowledge is power”.




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