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What Causes Chest Pain on Deep Breathing?

What Causes Chest Pain on Deep Breathing?

What should I do if my chest hurts when I take a deep breath? Is it a symptom of an underlying medical condition? Find out the answers from this HealthHearty article.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Chest pain is one of the most common health complaints, and the nature of the pain may differ depending on the underlying cause. There are numerous medical conditions that can cause chest pain. In some cases, the pain may worsen on deep breathing. Given below are some of the common medical conditions that are associated with this symptom.
Common Causes
Costochondritis, Rib Problems: Costochondritis is one of the common causes for chest pain on inhalation. The condition develops when the cartilage that attaches the ribs to the breastbone gets inflamed. Women and elderly people are more prone to costochondritis. Chest pain is the common symptom of this condition; and it worsens with movements, slight pressure, and deep breathing.
Certain medical conditions that affect the ribs may also cause chest pain, which may worsen with deep inhalation. A broken rib with slight bruising or protrusion in the chest may cause this symptom. Usually, this condition occurs when a person suffers a fall or undergoes any kind of chest trauma.
Pericarditis: The condition is characterized by inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart. It causes chest pain (mainly on the left side) that may radiate to the shoulder and neck. The pain worsens with deep breathing and coughing. Other symptoms include weakness, palpitations, abdominal swelling, mild fever, shortness of breath, etc. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids are used for treating pericarditis.
Pneumonia: This is a very serious lung infection that is treated using antibiotics. Severe pneumonia may cause chest pain on the left side. This symptom is mostly seen when the pleura (membrane that covers the lungs and inner chest wall) gets affected. The chest pain is often described as sharp or stabbing, and worsens with cough or deep breath. Other symptoms of pneumonia include high fever, shaking chills, productive cough, severe shortness of breath, sweating, etc.
Pulmonary Embolism: This is a serious condition wherein a blood clot gets lodged in an artery in the lungs. This leads to severe insufficiency of oxygen, thereby causing sharp chest pain when breathing. If the block enlarges, it can directly cut off the blood supply to the lungs, leading to lung collapse and eventual death of the individual. Apart from chest pain, the condition may cause cough, irregular heartbeat, excessive sweating, leg swelling, etc. It is treated with blood-thinning and clot-dissolving drugs. Surgery may be required in some cases.
Pneumothorax: This is a condition wherein gas or air gets collected in the pleural cavity located between the lungs and the chest. Some people may develop spontaneous pneumothorax, which is mostly seen in those with chronic lung infection. This condition may also occur due to chest trauma or as a complication of some medical treatment. Even healthy people may develop spontaneous pneumothorax. Sharp chest pain while breathing is the classic symptom of this condition. The pain may worsen with deep inhalation. While minor cases need no active treatment, needle aspiration may be required in severe cases of pneumothorax.
In short, chest pain is a symptom that is common for a host of medical conditions. In some cases, the pain may worse with breathing. Mentioned above are some of those medical conditions that are associated with that type of chest pain. This is a grave symptom that needs to be taken seriously, because it could be an indicator of a serious underlying disease or disorder.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.