The Effect of Breathing Exercises on Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion is an abnormality of the lung and airways, affecting breathing capabilities. The importance of breathing exercises cannot be overemphasized in pleural effusion. Exercises provide a plethora of natural ways to help this pulmonary condition, ranging from strengthening involved muscles to improving your overall health level. Check with your doctor first.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Pleural effusion affects the pleura, a membrane located inside your chest area. The pleura consists of two layers, one wrapping around the outer portion of your lungs and the other lining the inside of your chest cavity, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The thin space between the pleura layers is known as the pleural space, which normally contains a small amount of fluid that helps the pleura smoothly slide while breathing in and out. Excess and abnormal fluid accumulation in the pleural space is termed a pleural effusion. Some stages of pleural effusion can result in an abscess causes by fluid infection.


Pleural effusion can be caused by a variety of health ailments, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Most common causes include heart failure, coronary heart surgery, pleurisy, bacterial infections such as pneumonia, lung cancer, lymphoma, autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and pulmonary embolism or blood clots in the lung blood vessels. Sometimes no cause for pleural effusion, or pleurisy, can be found.

Clear Airways

Breathing exercises used in pleural effusion can make breathing more effortless, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Deep breathing can remove and clear the airways of mucus, which clogs the airways. Clearing the airways of mucus will also decrease any associated pain levels experienced while breathing, decrease risks of developing pneumonia while also lowering the chances of experiencing a collapsed lung. Coughing is an exercise that when done throughout the day will clear your airways of any accumulated mucus, according to If pain is too intense, try laying on your side while holding a pillow against your chest area while coughing.

Strengthen Lungs

Breathing exercises in pleural effusion can strengthen the lungs, according to Doing exercises such as holding your breath and coughing will help. While either standing or sitting, slowly breathe in as deeply as possible. Hold your breath for 10 seconds, or as long as possible. Slowly let the air out by exhaling with a strong, deep cough. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Do this exercise every awake hour throughout the day.


Pleural effusion can be affected by a number of areas in addition to exercise. Consider avoiding tobacco smoke, both first and second-hand, to improve your lung health. Eating a healthy diet containing nutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, lean protein and grains will improve your overall health and fight illnesses such as pleural effusion, according to Consider drinking plenty of fluids, including water, to flush your body of any accumulated toxins and keep your airways moist.