Pleural effusion, which is also known as “water on the lungs,” is the build-up of extra fluid stuck between the layers of the pleura outer side of the lungs. Pleural is a thin membrane between the lungs and the chest cavity whose main role is lubrication to facilitate easier breathing. The lubrication is achieved through the aid of pleural fluid in the pleural space. Sometimes fluid under pressure or infectious agents may enter the cavity-causing it to expand with abnormal amounts of fluid. Pleural Fluid is required for the lubrication between the lungs and the chest cavity. Friction is present due to the mechanical connection between the lungs and the chest cavity.
Direct pleural fluid drainage through the parietal pleura is important in removing particles, cells, and protein from the pleural space. When pleural liquid volume increases, an imbalance is experienced, which leads to fluid removal (Marel, 2003). Fluid production results from decreased oncotic pressure increased hydrostatic pressure, increased, and microvascular permeability. The rate of formation of this fluid must be greater than the lymphatic clearance to lead to the accumulation of fluid and thereby resulting in Pleural Effusion.
The common causes of building up of these fluids may be; heart failure, pulmonary embolism, cirrhosis, pneumonia, cancer, kidney diseases, and inflammatory disease. Other causes may include; Tuberculosis, Chylothorax, chest infections, and bleeding due to chest trauma. The cause of the pleural infection determines the extent of damage caused to the lungs, as well as the type of treatment required. The infection can sometimes have symptoms, and in other cases, it may show no sign. In most cases, it’s normally characterized by breathing problems, which may result in death easily.
The common symptoms of this infection are; dry, nonproductive cough, chest pains, difficulty in breathing. Deep breathing increases the pain. Infected persons may also experience fever and loss of appetite. Various complications may arise from this infection (Esquerda, 2014). Lung scarring is one of the most common complications experienced by most patients, which results from the absence of proper lubrication between the lungs and the chest cavity. The lungs may also sometimes collapse a condition referred to as Pneumothorax. Pus may also accumulate in the Pleural space; a condition referred to as empyema. Finally, blood infection may be seen, which easily leads to death—this condition of referred to as sepsis.
The cases of Pleural disease have increased internationally, which has resulted in intensive research on treatment techniques of this condition. Initially, surgical methods dominated, but with improved technology, other medical and nursing techniques have risen. Various medicines have been developed to handle this condition without having to undergo surgical procedures (Heffner, Klein & Hampson, 2009). Medical thoracoscopy, use of pleural catheters, pleural manometry, and pleural biopsy are among the most common techniques being used in handling this condition.
Early detection of this condition is crucial in preventing deaths resulting from pleural effusion. Small effusions may require no treatment, but as they get big treatment is crucial for patient survival (Lippincott & Wilkins, 2004). The patients should be encouraged to take tests to detect the effusions early enough and treat them. The patients should be made aware of the various treatment options to make informed decisions.