Health A-Z

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In patients with pleurisy, the outlook depends on the underlying medical illness.

  • Lung infection People with epidemic pleurodynia or other viral cause of pleurisy have an excellent prognosis. Patients with bacterial pneumonia also have a good prognosis if they promptly receive proper antibiotic treatment, especially if they are young and otherwise healthy.

  • Pulmonary embolism When a small pulmonary embolism affects less than 30 percent of the lungs, the prognosis is excellent. For large or recurrent emboli, respiratory problems or bleeding can occur in the future as a result of lung damage and the risks of long-term treatment with blood thinners.

  • Lung cancer The prognosis for lung cancer depends on whether the cancer is started in the lungs or spread there from another site in the body, how much lung tissue is involved, and whether the lung cancer has spread to other tissues and organs. Although the overall prognosis for people with lung cancer is poor, the outlook is best for those with small, localized tumors that are detected early.

  • Rheumatic fever In most cases, rheumatic fever has a good prognosis. Recurrence is most common in the first five years after the initial rheumatic fever episode.

  • Connective tissue disorders The outlook for people with pleurisy resulting from lupus is good, but the overall prognosis depends on whether other major organs, such as the kidney, are affected by the disease.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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