Lungs hurt: 8 reasons why


The diaphragm is a muscular “corset” in the chest area. A strong blow or surgery can damage the muscles, which is why pain develops - constant or intermittent. In the most severe cases, the injury can cause the diaphragm muscle to tear. A definitive diagnosis can only be made with a CT scan, but here are some symptoms that accompany muscle damage:

  • abdominal pain;
  • labored breathing;
  • chest or shoulder pain;
  • cough;
  • cardiopalmus;
  • nausea;
  • vomit.

Chest pain due to lungs

You may think that your chest pain is related to your heart, but it is actually related to your lungs.

This can happen with two common conditions that you should be aware of. One is dangerous and requires immediate attention; the other will make you sick, but is usually not life-threatening.

Let's take a look at the less serious one first. In its typical form it is easy to recognize.

The lungs are covered by a two-layer "wrapping tissue" called the pleura, which can fall victim to inflammation, irritation, or infection, leading to pleurisy .

If you have pleurisy, the two layers of this “wrap” rub against each other, and you feel a sharp pain at the height of each deep breath.

The pleura is especially susceptible to viruses.

  • Viral pleurisy is often accompanied by fever and cough.
  • Pneumonia , pneumonia, often begins as pleurisy.

Anyway, this is how it is difficult to breathe deeply, you have to take shallow breaths. Movement usually does not make the condition worse, but coughing is very painful.

Viral pleurisy usually lasts several days, then goes away on its own. The pain stops because the pleura secretes a lubricating fluid between its two layers, and now they slide smoothly against each other when breathing.

The consequences and treatment of pleuritic pain, however, depend on its cause. You don't have to worry too much about simple viral pleurisy.

But pleurisy can occur from a number of serious diseases. One such disorder is a blood clot, an embolism , in the lungs, which often manifests itself as pleurisy.

Unfortunately, many patients and doctors forget about this pathology. A clot from another part of the body (usually the legs or pelvis) travels along the veins to the lungs and lingers there. The pleura is irritated, which leads to pain. The severity of the attack depends on the size of the clot and the amount of lung tissue trapped. Therefore, symptoms of a pulmonary embolism can range from sudden pain anywhere in the chest that gets worse with breathing, to coughing up blood, a sudden drop in blood pressure (shock), and even death.

Just as there are factors that indicate a possible heart attack, some conditions make you think about a pulmonary embolism.

Here they are.

  • Recent phlebitis , inflammation of the veins in the legs. A blood clot forms inside the vein, pieces break off and travel to the lungs. This happens more often if you have varicose veins, have been on bed rest for a long time, or have spent a long time sitting in a car or airplane.
  • Trauma to the legs can also damage veins, causing clots to form. If the affected vessel is located deep, you may not notice the phlebitis caused by the injury until an embolism occurs.
  • Staying in bed for a long time slows down the blood flow and therefore promotes the formation of clots. This is the main reason why doctors force patients to get up and start walking as soon as possible after illness or surgery. Previously, when we did not understand this, we prescribed six weeks of complete immobility for a heart attack. Over time, it became apparent that this did not reduce cardiac complications and actually increased the likelihood of embolism. Here's a clear rule: whatever reason puts you in bed, get up and move as soon as possible.
  • Almost any surgery , especially in the pelvic area, makes you more vulnerable to traveling blood clots.
  • Birth control pills , although very effective on their own, make some women vulnerable to clots, especially those in their 30s and 40s who smoke and/or have high blood pressure.

Typically, chest pain with characteristics of pleurisy (pain when you breathe deeply and especially when you cough) is not necessarily dangerous, but requires prompt evaluation by your doctor.

There is one rather dramatic condition that causes both sudden chest pain and shortness of breath.

This happens when a section of the lungs collapses (becomes airless—Ed.), literally!

Strangely, this is usually observed in young, healthy people who are confident that they do not suffer from any pulmonary diseases. Therefore, it is difficult to predict when a pneumothorax .

In honey practice was a typical case.

The patient is a young, under 30-year-old foreign diplomat from the United Nations. He was physically completely healthy. The night before, just after dinner, he suddenly felt short of breath; there was no cough or fever, but there was severe pain in the right upper chest .

On examination, he appeared well but complained of ongoing pain, especially when taking deep breaths. The doctor thought it was the beginning of pleurisy, but when he began to listen to it, instead of the “friction” that I described earlier, he heard complete silence, there was no air movement at all - evidence that the lungs had collapsed. An x-ray confirmed the diagnosis and he sent the patient to the hospital. After several days of conservative treatment, he needed surgery (not always necessary) to repair a small hole in his lungs. He recovered completely.

Spontaneous pneumothorax usually results from the rupture of a small blister in the lungs, which releases air into the chest cavity and its pressure causes part or all of the lung to collapse. There were no symptoms before the rupture. But in older patients with emphysema (in which the lungs are inflated because they trap too much air), such blisters on the lungs are common, easy to rupture, and also cause pneumothorax.

In any condition where pneumothorax occurs, you should consult a doctor as quickly as possible to prevent more and more of your lungs from collapsing.

Here is another example of the same process, but with a different mechanism.

Alexander, 21 years old, a college student, felt a sharp pain in his right upper back after vigorous rhythmic gymnastics. The doctor decided it was a muscle spasm and referred him to a physical therapy specialist. He confirmed the diagnosis and decided to relieve the pain with an injection of novocaine.

Alexander turned a little pale at the sight of the needle, but it turned out that the injection was not as painful as he thought. But almost immediately after it, Alexander felt that he was short of breath. There was also pain, but he expected it. He was asked to move his right arm to see if the underlying pain improved. It did not decrease, and, moreover, he was suddenly short of breath.

They calmed Alexander down by joking.

However (that specialist was already about to call the next patient - Alexander was holding up the line) some other doctor listened to him with a stethoscope. Only then was the diagnosis of pneumothorax made...

It was not spontaneous, like the case described above. It was not caused by a ruptured bladder, but by a needle used to inject novocaine that went too far and punctured the lung. If you ever get a chest injection, for any reason, and suddenly find yourself short of breath, you now know why!


The uterus, which expands as the fetus grows, pushes the diaphragm upward. This causes the lungs to compress, making it more difficult to breathe, and may cause pain, discomfort when breathing, and shortness of breath. In most cases, these symptoms go away after childbirth, but you should still consult your doctor. It is especially important to consult a doctor if the following symptoms appear:

  • severe or constant pain;
  • persistent cough;
  • serious breathing problems.


Treatment of lung pain when coughing

With a correct diagnosis, curing such a disease is not difficult. Being a side symptom, it often disappears much earlier than the disease passes. When you contact your doctor, be sure to describe this symptom in as much detail as possible. Perhaps this will help the doctor make a more accurate diagnosis and change the course of treatment.

To eliminate cough as an irritant, various methods are used, such as treatment with pharmacological drugs and the use of folk remedies. In the absence of contraindications, inhalations, rubbing, massage and other procedures are used. Don't ignore this symptom and stay healthy.


Coughing can cause chest pain for several reasons, but the most common is a strained intercostal muscle. After all, they hardly strain themselves in everyday life. Unless such tension falls within the scope of professional or sports activities. Therefore, the increased load that occurs with a strong cough becomes the cause of pain (as in other muscles when tension increases).

However, this is the most harmless reason. After all, pain of a different nature can be evidence of an exacerbation of a hidden or obvious disease:

  • Tracheitis;
  • Bronchitis;
  • Pharyngitis;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Emphysema;
  • Tuberculosis;
  • Bronchiectasis;
  • Lung cancer.

If pain occurs not only during coughing, but also when taking a deep breath, shortness of breath appears, and the range of possible diseases expands:

  • Heart diseases;
  • Destruction of the rib frame (trauma);
  • Pathologies of the gallbladder or biliary tract;
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • Bronchial asthma;
  • Pericarditis;
  • Bone or joint diseases;
  • Stomach or duodenal ulcer;
  • Aortic diseases.

The nature of the symptom, together with accompanying signs, can tell a lot about the suspected diagnosis:

  • Severe pain in the chest, aggravated by coughing, is characteristic of acute tracheitis;
  • Pain due to problems with the spine may intensify with movement and calm down with rest;
  • A lumbago on the right side is usually a sign of problems with the stomach or gallbladder;
  • Pain radiating to the left arm or side is evidence of the onset of cardiac pathology;
  • If pain in the lungs when coughing is accompanied by other cold symptoms, then most likely the cause is muscle strain.

Treatment for chest pain should only occur after a thorough diagnosis. A common cold or acute respiratory viral infection is determined by laboratory blood tests, but in the case of more serious causes, radiography, bacterial culture of sputum, and a tuberculin test are necessary. In addition, consultation with highly specialized specialists is required: pulmonologist, trauma surgeon, cardiologist, oncologist.

Other diseases

Above we have listed the most common cases of lung pain that occurs when an adult or child coughs. However, such a symptom may indicate other diseases. These include:

  • abscess;
  • pulmonary infarction;
  • pneumothorax;
  • shingles;
  • myocardial infarction;
  • thoracic radiculitis;
  • osteomyelitis and others.

As you can see, the possible causes of pain that occurs in the lungs during coughing are very numerous and varied. Among them there are deadly diseases. If you experience pain in the lung area when you cough, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Problems with muscles and ribs

This is the safest cause of chest and lung pain when coughing. Of course, such painful sensations are unpleasant, but that’s all. Each person can cope with them independently at home.

Most often, this situation can arise as a result of some kind of injury. For example, this could be a blow from a traffic accident. In addition, you can stretch your pectoral muscles while doing sports and fitness. Finally, a person can simply be seen through.

In order to cope with such pain, as a rule, short-term use of some warming ointment or gel is sufficient.

If pain in the chest and lungs does not disappear within a few days, you should visit a doctor to check for fractures and cracked ribs. It is also worth going to a medical facility if pain is caused by the breathing process.

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