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Causes of Chest Pain - Pulmonary Problems

Asthma, Bronchitis, Pneumonia, Pleuritis

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Updated October 18, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Cause of pain:

Many varieties of lung problems can cause chest pain, including disorders of the airways such as asthma or bronchitis, infection of the lungs (pneumonia), and inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleuritis, or pleurisy).

Characteristics of pain:

Chest pain caused by lung problems can be localized or diffuse, and constant or increasing with breathing or coughing. Pain may be mild or severe. Pleurisy, in particular, is characterized by chest pain that appears each time a person inhales, and nearly disappears with exhalation. A severe coughing spell or two can sprain the chest muscles, and leave them aching for several days.

Evaluation:

Chest pain related to lung problems usually becomes quite apparent after the doctor takes a complete medical history, and performs a physical examination.

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Sources:

Svavarsdóttir AE, Jónasson MR, Gudmundsson GH, Fjeldsted K. Chest pain in family practice. Diagnosis and long-term outcome in a community setting. Can Fam Physician 1996; 42:1122.

Verdon F, Herzig L, Burnand B, et al. Chest pain in daily practice: occurrence, causes and management. Swiss Med Wkly 2008; 138:340.

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