Painful Respiration or Chest Pain When Breathing is an extremely unpleasant and sometimes agonizing condition in which the affected individual can feel mild to sometimes extreme discomfort or pain while breathing. At times, the pain may also make it difficult for the individual to breathe. The pain may be made worse by certain positions of the body or if the quality of the air is poor. Some of the other names given to this condition are:

Painful Respiration

  • Painful breathing
  • Painful Respirations
  • Painful Respiratory movements.

At times, Painful Respiration or Chest Pain When Breathing may indicate a potentially serious medical condition which may require immediate medical attention, so it is always better to seek immediate medical consultation for any unexplained chest pains or if an individual has problems with breathing. Below mentioned are some of the symptoms due to which immediate medical care is required.

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dyspnea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nasal flaring
  • A sensation as if the individual is not able to breath in enough air
  • Gasping for breath
  • Choking
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Alteration in awareness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Skin paleness
  • Cyanosis
  • Persistent dizziness
  • Hemoptysis
  • Persistent fever.

Painful Respiration or Chest Pain with Breathing can be quite a frightening symptom for an individual, so it is always advisable to consult a doctor if an individual is experiencing pain with breathing to rule out any potential serious causes to the pain.

What Can Cause Chest Pain When Breathing?

There are many medical conditions which tend to cause Painful Respiration or Chest Pain with Breathing. In some cases the pain may be mild and in some cases it may be more severe. These medical conditions are:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Angina Pectoris
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Inhalation injuries
  • Pneumonia
  • Pleurisy which is a medical condition in which there is inflammation of the lining in the chest cavity
  • Pneumothorax, which is a medical condition in which there is accumulation of air within the lining of the chest
  • Emphysema
  • Empyema, which is a medical condition in which there is accumulation of pus within the lining of chest cavity
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pericarditis which is a medical condition in which there is inflammation of tissues surrounding the heart
  • Pulmonary embolism.

How Is Painful Respiration Or Chest Pain When Breathing Diagnosed?

As there are numerous causes which may cause painful respiration or chest pain when breathing of varying severity; therefore, to identify the exact cause of the condition, the treating physician will first take a detailed history and conduct a thorough physical examination. During history taking, the physician may ask about any prior history of lung diseases or any family history of the same. The physician may also inquire about recent or remote history of smoking. As certain conditions like pneumonia tends to worsen with lying down hence the physician may ask the individual as to what positions tend to make the pain better or worse. Apart from a detailed history and physical examination, the treating physician will also order the following studies to identify the cause for painful respiration or chest pain with breathing.

Chest X-Rays: This study is done to look at the condition of the chest and lungs and if there is any inflammation is present it will show up on the x-ray.

CT Scan Of The Chest: This test will give a more accurate picture of the lungs and the surrounding tissues and vessels and any abnormality however minute it may be will show up on the images.

Blood And Urine Examination: These will be done to rule out any infection as a cause for the symptoms experienced.

Electrocardiogram (EKG): This will show whether the heart is functioning normally or not and if any abnormality in the heart is causing the symptoms.

In case if the treating physician is unable to identify any specific cause for painful respiration or chest pain when breathing, then the physician may refer the individual to a specialist who will then conduct further detailed investigations to find out the cause for the symptoms and once identified will formulate a detailed treatment plan.

What Are Treatments For Painful Respiration Or Chest Pain When Breathing?

The treatment for painful respiration or chest pain with breathing is totally dependent on the underlying cause of the symptoms. In case if the pain in the chest with breathing is caused due to pneumonia then the affected individual may be prescribed antibiotics to eliminate the infection. In case if there are other causes producing the symptoms then treatment may range from anticoagulation to even potential surgery. If painful respiration or chest pain with breathing is produced by medical conditions like asthma or emphysema, then the affected individual may require long term treatments which will include breathing treatments and a prolonged course of prescription medications to treat the condition and relieve pain in chest with breathing.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: February 21, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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