Whoa! It hurts when I breathe.


You’ve been in bed with the flu and when you woke this morning, your chest hurt when you breathed in (inhaled). It more than hurt, it was painful! Like a catch, a sudden severe cramp when you inhaled.

But what kind of pain? Pressure? Dull ache? Sharp pain? The doctor will want to know so he can make a diagnosis. He’ll also do a chest x-ray and do a physical exam but why the pain? For starters, there is a sack surrounding each lung, as you can see in the image above, called the pleura.

What happens? As a result of your infection, inflammation and irritation of the pleura result. The pain you experience is the result of the lung rubbing against the inflamed and irritated pleura when you inhale, sometimes exhale. Pleurisy is the name given to this condition. Among its causes are infection, a rib fracture, lung cancer, or a trauma to your chest like a recent fall.

How do you treat this and make it go away? First, is pain relief. Possibly the obvious choice would be to give you pain medicine; but sometimes, the best way is to get treatment started for the underlying cause. In your case, the cause is from your respiratory infection so an IV is started and you begin receiving antibiotics every four hours.

Then, analgesia begins with an appropriate pain med and a heating pad may help as it soothes. in addition. rest is indicated to help the antibiotics work. Sometimes, because there is such pain when you inhale, you don’t take a full breath. In that instance, you may be short of breath and oxygen might be described.




About Annie

My 20 year nursing career ended when i was diagnosed with lupus. So, I began another career as a freelance writer and advocate for people with chronic illnesses. anowlin@mac.com

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