Chest Pain When Breathing Deeply
Chest pain, especially chest pain when breathing deeply, is something we react to differently than pain experienced elsewhere in the body. Usually we think about different possible causes for our pain, but chest pain is often accompanied by fear of a heart attack since that is the type of chest pain we hear about the most. Becoming aware of some of the possible causes of chest pain when breathing deeply can help alleviate some of the fears if you experience it in the future.
Panic Attacks and Chest Pain
Panic attacks are all about fear. Consider Basil Ross’s situation. Nine months after quadruple bypass surgery, he was rushed to the hospital in fear for his life. He had shooting chest pain and difficulty breathing. However, his EKG results were normal, so he was sent home. After several more trips to the hospital with the same symptoms and a clean angiogram, he was finally diagnosed with panic disorder (chronic panic attacks).
According to the Mayo Clinic, a panic attack is when, for no known reason, someone experiences intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms. During panic attacks, some people feel like they are experiencing a heart attack. They may experience chest pain when breathing deeply, shortness of breath, an increased heart rate, sweating, chills, or other symptoms. If left untreated, panic disorder can lead to serious problems such as depression, substance abuse, and crippling phobias that can leave someone unable to drive a car or leave their own home.
Pulmonary embolisms, blood clots that block blood vessels leading to the lungs, are serious causes of chest pain that can become worse when breathing deeply. Lori De Milo has written that some of the risk factors for pulmonary embolism include lack of movement for prolonged periods of time, surgery, childbirth, cancer, obesity, oral contraceptives, and heart attack or other heart-related problems.
Serena Williams, the tennis star, experienced a pulmonary embolism in February 2011 that was probably caused by flying after surgery since both increase the risk of blood clots. She survived the experience and was back on the tennis courts within a few months because she immediately sought help when her problem began, and the doctors diagnosed her condition quickly.
Pleurisy can be frightening because, as Ian Peate reported, it usually begins suddenly and the pain can increase when breathing in or taking deep breaths. It is caused by the inflammation of the lung linings, often as a result of injury or infection such as pneumonia. It is important to seek medical help for pleurisy because, as S. Kass, Pamela Williams, and Brian Reamy have written, the symptoms (chest pain when breathing deeply) and the condition (the cause of the inflammation) both need to be treated.
Panic attacks, pulmonary embolisms, and pleurisy are a few types of chest pain when breathing deeply. Some other possibilities include costochondritis (sometimes called slipping rib syndrome), pain caused by collision injuries, and muscular chest pain.
If you are experiencing chest pain when breathing deeply, or any type of chest pain, you should seek help from a licensed medical care practitioner for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
De Milo, Lori. “Pulmonary Embolism.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine . 4:3rd ed. (2006). Web. 29 June 2011.
Kass, S., Williams, Pamela, and Reamy, Brian. “Pleurisy.” American Family Physician 75:9 (2007): 1357-1364. EBSCOhost. Web. 3 June 2011.
“Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder.” MayoClinic.com. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1998-2011. Web. 15 June 2011.
Peate, Ian. “Caring for the Person with Pleurisy.” British Journal of Healthcare Assistants 03:10 (2009): 480-483. EBSCOhost. Web. 3 June 2011.
Pucin, Diane and Brown, Eryn. “Serena Williams Has Health Scare.” Los Angeles Times. 3 Mar 2011 Home Ed. Lexis Nexis. Web 27 June 2011.
Ross, Cecily. “The heart of the matter; smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol … we all know the physical risks. But now doctors say that for cardiac patients, treating the mind is just as important as treating the body.” The Glove and Mail. 18 Dec 2004. LexisNexis. Web. 15 June 2011.