Pleural Effusion


In 2004, my mom suddenly became ill.  She was having problems breathing and at first we thought it was the flu.  She kept getting worse.  She also starting having chest pains at this time.  We took her to the emergency room.  They said her heart was fine, she stayed in the hospital one night and was released with the diagnosis of pleurisy.  This diagnosis was given with no full chest x-ray.

She continued to have symptoms.  I would do acupuncture on her and she would improve for a while, but the symptoms would come back and she got worse.

She had to sleep sitting up.  Every day she struggled to breathe.  She went to various internal medicine doctors and was never given a full x-ray or any idea about what her problem might be.

Finally, she got a full chest x-ray.  You see, she had breast cancer 2 years before and they just wanted to write off her symptoms as the cancer affecting her lungs.

The x-ray showed the pleural effusion.  There are 2 sacs that surround your lungs, called the pleura.  In between these sacs she was building up fluid and was basically drowning on her own fluids.  She had lived like this for 3 months already.

They admitted her to the hospital and drained off a quart of fluid by sticking a needle in her back and pulling the fluid out.

They sent her home the next day.  She was not improving.  She still had problems breathing and it seemed the fluid was coming back.  The guy who gave her a chest x-ray had told her that he had a friend who had that problem and he had died.  It is not uncommon for people to die from this problem.

My mom’s lips were purple.  I knew that was a sign of not enough oxygen.  I knew she was dying.  I had no idea what to do.  She had seen numerous medical doctors and they could not help her.

I looked in the yellow pages for an acupuncturist who had experience in hospitals in China.  I knew that in China, Chinese herbs and acupuncture were used for all types of diseases.  I found Dr. Tao.

Dr. Tao immediately recognized that she not only had a pleural effusion, but also had pericarditis.  That is an inflammation of the sac around your heart.  Her heart had worked so hard to pump against all that fluid in her lungs that she was in heart failure.

Dr. Tao prescribed bags of herbs for her.  We boiled the herbs and within days her symptoms were going away.  He gave her herbs that strengthened her heart, got rid of excess fluid and improved blood flow in her heart.  He basically saved her life.

She completely recovered from her heart problem.  With regular acupuncture and Chinese herbal tonics, she maintains her health in her 70’s.

(I am providing this information to illustrate how effective Chinese medicine is for both everyday problems and life threatening illnesses.)

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