Q:

What is the function of pleural fluid?

A:

Pleural fluid prevents friction between the lungs and the chest cavity during respiration, and is found in a thin space between two layers of tissue. The tissues surrounding the lungs produce the fluid that rhythmically ebbs and flows in the small pleural space.

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When the lining tissues become inflamed due to viral infections, the pleural fluid is restricted, and breathing becomes difficult and painful. However, pleural effusion -- the presence of excess fluid -- is indicative of common medical conditions, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus. An acute lung trauma may cause the formation of a pneumothorax, which is the presence of air or gas in the pleural space, a condition that causes pain, shortness of breath and can lead to lung collapse.

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