Lung Chest Pain

Causes of Lung Chest Pain

The most common causes of pulmonary chest pain is a result of pathology within the lungs although conditions affecting the air passages may also cause chest pain. Lung chest pain may either be one side or affect both sides simultaneously and some of the common symptoms that occur along with the chest pain includes shortness of breath, abnormal breathing sounds and/or coughing.

Asthma

Asthma is the inflammation and narrowing of the bronchioles which are the small tubes that empty air into the lung sacs. Chest pain is not a common symptom of asthma but may occur in severe or prolonged attacks of asthma (status asthmaticus).

Other symptoms of a severe asthma attack include a difficulty breathing which is not relieved by change in position or medication, tight chest pain, wheezing, difficulty in coughing, blue lips, dizziness and fainting spells.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of the bronchi. These tubes branch from the trachea (wind pipe) and further subdivide into bronchioles.

Bronchitis may be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is often due to an infection, especially a secondary bacterial infection which may occur after the seasonal flu (influenza) or a common cold. Chronic bronchitis tends to occur in long term smokers.

Both types of bronchitis will cause persistent coughing with intermittent chest pain that is aggravated by the cough. A fever may also be present in acute bronchitis due to an infection.

Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism occurs when a clot lodges in the pulmonary artery, a blood vessel that carries blood to the lungs for gas exchange. This type of embolism occurs suddenly, typically without any warning and is one of the most common causes of a sudden chest pain. A pulmonary embolism is a serious medical condition and is potentially life threatening.

Some of the common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism includes shortness of breath (dyspnea), coughing, wheezing, increased heart rate (tachycardia), dizziness and/or fainting spells, sweating and pallor. A pulmonary embolism may be mistaken for a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

Pleurisy

Pleurisy is the inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleura) and is also known as pleuritis. There are two layers of the pleura, one of which surrounds the lung and the other that lines the chest wall. Some of the causes of pleurisy include respiratory tract infections, cardiac failure, smoke or toxic gas inhalation, trauma of cancer of the lung or pleura.

The symptoms of pleurisy include a sharp, stabbing pain that is aggravated when breathing. There may be shortness of breath as well as abnormal breathing sounds due to fluid accumulation between the pleura (pleural effusion).

Pneumothorax

A pneumothorax or ‘collapsed lung’ occurs when air enters the space between the lung and chest wall. There are different types of pneumothorax caused by a range of factors including trauma to the chest wall, emphysema, tuberculosis (TB), pneumonia, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and forced or unusually deep inhalation.

The signs and symptoms of a pneumothorax include diminished or abnormal breathing sounds usually on one side of the chest, sharp or tight chest pain and shortness of breath.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lungs usually caused by an infection or due to aspiration of gastric contents into the lung.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include a productive cough (mucus, sputum or phlegm), fever and chills, shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain that aggravates with breathing.

Tracheitis

Tracheitis is the inflammation of the trachea (wind or air pipe) usually due to an infection. The most common cause of tracheitis is a secondary bacterial infection that follows a viral infection such as the seasonal flu or common cold.

Other symptoms of tracheitis include a deep, hoarse cough, fever, difficulty breathing and stridor.

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  • angel47

    for almost 2 years I have had episodes of chest pain and sometimes also felt in back around shoulder blade. usually last from a couple days to a couple weeks. it is usually in front but this time all the pain is in back area that seems to be where my lung is. positions or deep breathing can cause it to be very uncomfortable. one time went to doctors but nothing was checked out. too scared to go to doctors again

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Angel47

    You do need to see a doctor and possibly get a referral to the relevant specialist. A range of chest pain tests will need to be done. There is no certainty that this pain in linked to a lung disorder. It could be related to the various structures within the chest cavity or it could be due to the muscles, nerves or bones (ribs, scapula, vertebral column) in this area. The only way to know for sure is to see a doctor. Do not delay. If it is a serious condition, the delay may lead to other complications.

  • bstar07

    I have been having chest pains for a month now. I went to see a dr a couple weeks after it started and they did blood tests and xrays. They just said it was probably pleuracy. However, I haven’t had pnemonia or been sick at all. I am having a hard time believing it is pleuracy. My symptoms are sharp pain on the right side of my sternum.Its not provoked by anything that I can tell. Does this sound like it could be anything serious or should I just continue to wait it out?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Bstar06

    A sharp chest pain, especially if it is exacerbated during breathing, is a typical sign of pleurisy. It would not necessarily only occur in a case of pneumonia. Apart from other respiratory tract infections, it can also be due to non-infectious causes like certain autoimmune conditions. Follow your doctor’s instructions or seek a second opinion from another doctor. We cannot say if it is serious or what steps you should take – only your doctor can advise you as he/she has seen your x-ray, test results and done a physical examination and is the best position to advise you.