What Causes Painful Lungs?

Painful lungs may be simple rib muscle aching but can also be underlying condition like cancer. Know the root cause and seek medical help if necessary.

It is not exactly right to say “lungs hurt” or “lung pain” since it is not possible for lungs to feel pain as they lack pain receptors. However, it is perfectly normal to get worried when you feel some sort of pain in your lungs or near your lungs. If you are wondering what lung pain would feel like, or what can cause it, or whether it could be a symptom of cancer, then read on for some insight.

Why Does Your Lung Hurt?

When you go to a healthcare provider, they will ask you what sort of pain you are feeling in your lungs, is it dull or sharp?

Do you feel it throughout your chest cavity, or is it just around a specific area? Does the pain come occasionally or is it constant and worsening? What makes you feel better and what worsens the situation?

There are several mechanisms that cause pain to occur in the lung cavity. Some of them include:

Inflammation- this might be as a result of an infection or something else that can cause the lungs or the region around them to be sore.

Irritation- when the lining of the lungs is irritated - for example, in the cause of pleurisy.

Pressure- this can be caused by a benign or cancerous tumor in the chest cavity or lungs, or as a result of pressure from inflammation around a nerve or a tumor.

Chest wall pain- this can be caused by straining of the chest cavity muscles due to injuries, coughing or pain related to a shingles infection (your lungs hurt before you get rashes)

Common Causes of Painful Lungs

So far the most common causes of pain in the chest cavity are as a result of soreness or inflammation of joints between the breastbone and ribs or muscles between the ribs. Even in instances that you might feel like the pain is coming from inside your chest, it is your ribs that hurt in most cases. If the pain comes in twinges and is most painful when you take a deep breath, the cause is likely to be the ribs. Nonetheless, it is important for you to ensure that the twinges are not associated with more serious problems like inflammation around the lungs or heart lining, a clot in the lung cavity, heart attack, lung infection or a heart problem.

There are several causes of lung pain. Some of the common ones include:

1. Pleurisy

Pleurisy is an inflammation or swelling of pleura (thin layers of tissue) that cover the chest wall and the lungs. There is normally a small space between the layer that covers the chest cavity and the lungs. The two glide over each other when breathing by the help of a lubricant. When inflammation of these linings occurs, the two rub against each other resulting to chest pains. Pleurisy can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Its symptoms include pain on one side of the chest and might extend to the shoulder and the stomach.

2. Hyperventilation

Hyperventilation occurs when you breathe deeply and rapidly mostly when you are anxious or in panic mode. When you breathe excessively, you end up reducing the level of carbon dioxide in the blood causing hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is caused by anxiety, panic attack, heart attack, pregnancy, drug overdose like aspirin, infections, stress, and use of stimulants among others.

3. Lung Abscess or Pneumonia

These kinds of infections can lead to many forms of chest pains like pleuritic pains and deep chest aches. Pneumonia normally attacks suddenly with symptoms like chills, fever, coughing, coughing out pus and asthma.

4. Pulmonary Embolism

Lungs hurt also because of a clot forming in the blood and finding itself in the lung cavity. This causes trouble breathing, acute pleuritis and accelerated heartbeat. The patient might also suffer shock and fever. Pulmonary embolism in most cases occurs after staying immobile after surgery thus developing deep thrombosis or as a result of a cancer complication.

5. Pneumothorax

It occurs when part of the lung collapses as a result of injury letting in air into the chest cavity. You will experience pain that worsens when you breathe in alongside other symptoms like low blood pressure.

6. Pulmonary Hypertension

You will experience pain that is similar to angina. When the blood pressure in the lungs is extremely high, the right side of the heart is over worked.

7. Asthma

This is a disease that causes inflammation of the respiratory tract and a result one experiences trouble breathing, wheezing, chest pain and coughing.

8. Pleural Effusion

This occurs when there is excess fluid between the lining of the lungs and that of the chest cavity. Symptoms you are likely to experience include coughing, chest pain that gets worse when you cough and shortness of breath.

9. Lung Cancer

In most cases, patients do not realize the symptoms of lung cancer until it is too late. Some of the symptoms include chronic cough, loss of weight and appetite, shortness of breath, and coughing blood.

10. Heavy Smoking

If you are a smoker and you have days when you complain aching lungs, this might be caused by your smoking habits. If you have increased smoking, then you might have caused inflammation to occur in your airways. A major symptom is pain when you take a deep breath. The pain is as a result of the cilia growing back after the chest has cleared out the tar.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you are constantly complaining “my lungs hurt”, it is important to pay your doctor a visit. Call 911 or consult a doctor when you feel lightheaded, if you experience shortness of breath, if you feel crushing kind of pain, sudden pains or if the pain which spread to your arm, back and jaw.



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