Physical exam for pleurisy

When you see your doctor with chest pain from pleurisy, he or she will check:

  • Your temperature. If pleurisy is caused by a viral infection, typical viral symptoms of fever, headache, and muscle aches may be present.
  • Your breathing. You may be taking rapid and shallow breaths to avoid the chest pain of pleurisy.
  • Whether the pain varies depending on your actions. The chest pain of pleurisy is usually worse with coughing, sneezing, or during sudden movements. It may ease when you hold your breath or apply pressure to the painful area.
  • Where the pain is. The chest pain of pleurisy may be on only one side of the chest or may extend to a shoulder or the belly.

Your doctor also will listen to your chest for:

  • Dull thuds heard when the chest is tapped (percussion dullness).
  • Sounds made when the two layers of the pleura rub together (pleural friction rub).

Last Updated: July 29, 2009

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