Pleural Effusion

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Personal Stories


Pleural Effusion is fluid in the lining of the lungs. In scleroderma, this is usually caused by inflammation (rather than infection.) Sometimes there are no symptoms, and it is just discovered on a chest x-ray.

The classic symptom is sharp chest pain, which is worsened by taking a deep breath. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, hiccups, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, and joint stiffness.

Diagnostic tests include: chest X-ray, thoracentesis, pleural fluid analysis, thoracic CT, chest MRI, and serum sodium. (1)

Chest Pain, Chronic Many different types of problems can cause discomfort, shortness of breath, pain with swallowing, and many other symptoms in the chest area. This chart may help you pinpoint your problem as you confirm your symptoms.

Shortness of Breath This worrisome symptom has many acute and chronic causes. Follow this flowchart for more information about the diseases in which shortness of breath occurs.


Treatment for the type of pleural effusion which is caused by inflammation includes NSAIDS (such as Ibuprofen) or Prednisone. In more severe cases, fluid may be drained, which is called Thoracentesis. Mild cases may require no treatment at all.

Sometimes Pleural Effusion is due to heart failure, which may also be caused by Scleroderma causing inflammation of the heart muscle, or from scarring of it. Scleroderma heart involvement includes pericardial (heart lining) effusion, arrhythmias, or heart failure.


Corticosteroids. ISN.


Personal Stories: Pleural Effusion

Christene: Limited Scleroderma I was diagnosed when I was just nineteen and at that time it was one of the scariest moments of my life…

Neelam: Systemic Sclerosis (India) In December 1998 my right pointer finger started becoming blue and was hurting a lot…

Sara P: CREST Syndrome In the winter of 1997, my fingers and toes started turning white and numb in response to the cold weather…

Go to Pulmonary Fibrosis

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