Pleural Effusion Specialist

Fivestar Pulmonary Associates

Pulmonologist & Critical Care Medicine Specialists located in Allen, TX & Mckinney, TX

Shortness of breath, chest pain, and a dry cough may be due to pleural effusion, also known as water on the lungs. At Fivestar Pulmonary Associates in Allen, Plano, and Mckinney, Texas, expert pulmonologists Anthony Nebor, MD, and Deepthi Gandhiraj MD, diagnose and treat pleural effusion. For compassionate care of pleural effusion, call the office or book an appointment online today.

Pleural Effusion Q & A

What is pleural effusion?

Pleural effusion happens when fluid builds up between the layers of tissue that line your lungs and chest cavity.

Pleura are thin membranes that cover the outside of your lungs and the inside of your chest cavity. There’s always some fluid in this space to help lubricate your lungs as they expand with each breath. A pleural effusion is an excessive accumulation of this fluid.

What are the symptoms of pleural effusion?

Some people don’t experience any pleural effusion symptoms at all. These people may find out they have a pleural effusion when they get a physical exam or chest X-ray for another reason.

When pleural effusion does cause symptoms, they may include:

  • Dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Difficulty taking deep breaths

If you have symptoms of pleural effusion, contact Fivestar Pulmonary Associates right away. Some types of pleural effusion require prompt medical treatment to avoid complications like permanent lung damage.

What causes pleural effusion?

There are different types of pleural effusions, each with its own cause. 

Transudative pleural effusion

A transudative pleural effusion is the result of fluid leaking into the pleural space. Heart failure is the most common cause of this type.

Exudative effusion

An exudative effusion is due to inflammation, infection, injury, or tumors.

Factors that may increase your risk for pleural effusion include smoking and drinking alcohol, high blood pressure, and previous contact with asbestos.

How is pleural effusion diagnosed and treated?

First, your provider at Fivestar Pulmonary Associates performs a physical exam and reviews your medical history and symptoms. They may order a chest X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan to look for signs of fluid build-up.

Your provider may perform thoracentesis, a procedure that involves removing fluid from around the lungs with a needle. Thoracentesis can help diagnose the cause of pleural effusion as well as treat the symptoms by removing excess fluid.

Depending on the cause of pleural effusion, treatment may include:

  • Diuretic medication to treat heart failure
  • Antibiotics to fight infection
  • Thoracentesis to remove fluid

If your pleural effusion is due to lung cancer, treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.

For expertise in diagnosing and treating pleural effusion, call Fivestar Pulmonary Associates, or book an appointment online today.