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Pleural Effusion: Lifestyle Management

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This information was reviewed and approved by Ellen Volker, MD, MSPH (5/1/2019).

While pleural effusion is a common condition, it can quickly become serious. People living with pleural effusion or pleurisy should see their doctor right away to begin treatment before infection or other complications occur.

Always follow your treatment plan as prescribed and maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent recurrence. Here are some additional resources to help you.


If you have pleural effusion or pleurisy, there are steps you can take to manage unpleasant symptoms and prevent the condition from recurring. Get plenty of rest, and avoid physical activity that may intensify pain or breathing problems. If your pleural effusion is caused by an underlying medical condition such as cancer, congestive heart failure or lung disease, speak with your doctor to learn more about living with chronic disease. Be honest about your concerns, and let your doctor know if you experience changes in your symptoms.



Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and lean protein. Limit sugar, fat and alcohol, and maintain a healthy weight. Healthy eating is important during and after treatment.



Your doctor may recommend avoiding physical activity while you have pleural effusion or pleurisy. But after treatment, you’ll want to resume normal exercise. High blood pressure increases your risk of pleural effusion. Exercise can help lower blood pressure, decrease stress and anxiety and improve strength, mood and bone health. If you don’t regularly exercise, talk with your doctor before you start. Your doctor can help recommend an exercise plan.


Lifestyle Changes

Smoking and high blood pressure put you at greater risk of getting pleural effusion. Avoid smoking altogether, and seek help if you would like to quit. Find healthy ways to manage stress, and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Get in the habit of washing your hands frequently to avoid exposure to viruses or bacteria. If you feel like you have a cold or virus, get plenty of rest, and seek medical attention if you experience chest pain, difficulty breathing or fever or if your symptoms worsen.


Clinical Trials

You may want to consider participating in clinical trials to learn more about pleural effusion and pleurisy. Clinical trials help contribute to the field of medicine and may help others in the future. View the current list of clinical trials at National Jewish Health.


Additional Resources


Pleural Effusion: Associated Conditions

For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.