Chest Pain After Heavy Smoking and When Breathe in Deep

CraigT Asked :

In the past 2 weeks I have been experiencing a dull ache in my chest. When I breathe in deeply there pain in the chest on both sides but more towards the middle of the chest. I also have a pain by the shoulder blade and when I breathe in deeply this also aches a bit more than usual. I am only 24 years old and quite fit but over the past few weeks I have been working for long hours on my computer and I smoke a lot when I do this because I am stressed. I also drink a lot of coffee but this is not a new thing as I have always been a bit of a caffeine addict since I was a teenager.

I think my shoulder blade pain is due to my posture at the computer as I have experienced it before when I was desk bound and it eased once I stopped spending long hours over my computer. But I am worried about the chest pain and if this could be lung cancer or something. I do have an occasional cough but there is no mucus or anything. I don’t have any weight loss or diminished appetite and I actually don’t feel sick except for feeling a bit unfit now that I don’t get much exercise. Everything else is normal. Any suggestions?

This question was posted under the Lung Chest Pain article.

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Dr. Chris Answered :

The chest pain that you are experiencing may be due to the increased cigarette smoking as your air passages may be inflamed. One of the characteristic features of this is chest pain when you breathe in deeply. But do not exclude other causes immediately and it is best that you have a chest x-ray as soon as you can. Refer to Chest Pain Tests. Many serious causes of chest pain will present in this manner and do not let your age detract from this possibility. Visit your doctor so he can assess you properly and make a diagnosis.

The shoulder blade pain is possible if you are stooping over your computer for long hours. Poor posture is a common cause of this type of muscular pain and if you have to spend long hours at one spot, it is advisable to take a short break and do some simple stretching exercises for your neck and back. The chest pain when you breathe in deeply could also be due to muscular causes as your chest cavity expands upon inspiration. Nevertheless there are both lung, cardiac and gastrointestinal causes of chest pain that can cause referred pain to the shoulder blade. Once again, you doctor will be able to advise you accordingly.

As a smoker, lung cancer is always a risk irrespective of the quantity and duration of cigarette smoking. However, you should not focus on a condition like lung cancer until you have excluded other more common causes like bronchitis, pleurisy, a pinched nerve and even acid reflux which can be aggravated by stress and excessive use of nicotine and caffeine. You should also reconsider your smoking and coffee drinking as a means of coping with stress and learning stress management skills is imperative in dealing with the long working hours without jeopardizing your health.

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