Graves disease and Pleurisy

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My diagnosis of Graves Disease followed on from a bout of Pleurisy back in early 2015.  I struggled for what seems like months not being able to catch my breath but I never worked out if it was lingering symptoms of the Pleurisy, the hyperthyroid or both that contributed.  It eventually settled down.  Just before Christmas 2016 everyone at work seemed to be getting the cold and chest infections from hell.   In fact a few people got Pneumonia.  I inevitably got a chest infection that again turned into Pleurisy and I am still stuggling with it three months on.  Doctor said that the chest is clear but there is still likely imflamation which is causing pain across my upper back and chest (left side only).  I am taking pain killers and anti imflamatories as instructed but seem to be getting nowhere and I am fed up.  Just wondering if anyone else has problems like this and if it is a Graves thing ... any practical tips for getting rid of the residual pain would be welcome.  Thank you

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  • Posted

    Hi there. 

    This is so crazy, but I am going through the same exact thing. I’m in my second spout of pleurisy (in my young 20s). After much blood work it is looking like I have graves. I haven’t started any medication, but am so frustrated with the pain and breathing problems. Mine is localized left side as well, some days are better than others. Since you posted this have you found any treatments that helped? I strongly believe these two are related and with a healthy thyroid the pleurisy should stay away. Hope you see this!! 

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  • Posted

    Hi claire64756, I have Graves' (diagnosed in 2015) and at times I have a dull pain in the lower front left side of my rib cage. In an acute phase, it is painful to take a deep breath. If I dig my fingers slightly under the rib cage I can feel a 'good' pain similar to pressing on a myofascial trigger point. In my case, it comes an goes. The dull pain lasts for several weeks and then fades away. 

    I always assumed that it is due to costochondritis, an inflammation of the area connecting ribs and cartilage.

    Just googled pleurisy and the symptoms seem to overlap to some degree (although pleurisy is a much deeper type of inflammation that involves the lining of the lungs). To distinguish between the two you apparently have to push on the chest resulting in a painful response in patients with costochondritis. 


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    • Posted


      Do you think the inflammation in the body is a response to the auto immune of Graves’ disease? Does thyroid medication help your symptoms at all? 

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    • Posted

      I have read that in some patients, TSH receptor antibodies cause inflammation of the orbital muscles and fat tissue leading to thyroid ophthalmopathy.

      I have also read that patients that have been diagnosed with one autoimmune disorder (Graves', diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Coeliac disease, etc) have a slightly higher risk, compared to the general population, of having a second autoimmune disorder. 

      That does not mean that every person with Graves' is going to have e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and that there is a causal link between these two disorders. It just signals that there is something wrong with that patient's immune system that makes him/her more vulnerable to autoimmune disorders.

      There are some autoimmune disorders that have the potential to affect the lungs. I will send  you a link to an article with the title: Pulmonary Manifestations of Systemic Autoimmune Diseases (2011)


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    • Posted

      Claire23145, to answer your questions directly. I do not think that Graves' is causing my costochondritis. This is a recurring problem that I had long before being diagnosed with Graves' or hyperthyroidism. Antithyroid medication (that I am currently taking) is helping with the symptoms of hyperthyroidism but does not seem to have a notable effect on the pain around the lower left sternum.  I have yet to find out exactly what is causing a flare-up but I have the suspicion that (in my case) it is initiated by some form of physical strain. 


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