Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, a serous membrane which envelopes the lungs and also lines the inside of the chest. It may be acute or chronic, and milk or severe. The disease may be limited to one side of the chest or it may include both the sides.
Like any other viral infection, pleurisy can occur in small epidemics. The disease is quite common in young children,but it is generally secondary to pneumonia and usually follows the wrong treatment of the latter.
The child-patient should be kept in bed until the temperature becomes normal and remains so for several days. At the first sign of the disease, hot fomentations should be applied to the chest directly over the painful area twice or thrice daily. These should be thick and large, and must be applied under the arm from sternum to spine while the patient lies on the opposite side. They should be continued till the pain is relieved. The movement of Strapping the chest with tight muslin should restrict lungs bandage or adhesive plaster. Ice bags should never be applied to the chest in pleurisy. Radiant heat may be applied to the chest after convalescence to absorb exudate.
The child-patient should be given only liquid diet till the acute symptoms are over. Orange juice mixed with warm water will be especially beneficial. Minimum two or three glasses of water should be given daily for the first few days. The quantity of water should be gradually increased to four or five more glasses each day.
After the acute symptoms have subsided, the child-patient should be put on an exclusive fresh fruit diet for further two or three days. In this regime, he should take fresh juicy fruits such as orange, apple, pineapple, and papaya. Thereafter, he may be allowed to embark upon a well-balanced diet according to his age. The emphasis should be on whole-grain cereals, fresh fruits and lightly-cooked vegetables.
Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of pleurisy. The use of celery is one such remedy. It is known to have antispasmodic properties. The seeds of this plant are also useful in treating this infection.
The use of the herb hog weed is beneficial in the treatment of pleurisy. It helps remove catarrhal matter and phelgm from the bronchial tubes. The powder of the root can be taken in small quantities three times a day.
Linseed is also valuable in this disease. A loose poultice of the seeds can be applied with excellent results. The counter- irritant effect of the poultice can be enhanced by dusting mustard powder over it.
As soon as the patient has gained slightly in strength, he should undertake moderate exercise as a routine, avoiding fatigue. Air bath, sun bath and dry friction bath are of particular importance. If there is any particular disease present along with pleurisy,whether as a causative or as a complicating condition, the same should also be given appropriate attention.
Chronic pleurisy should be treated in the same manner with regards to diet and the application of the heat. All efforts should be made to increase the vitality, reduce toxaemia and restore normal freedom of chest movements.