Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Breathe In Deeply?

In this article, I am going to answer the common question: Why does my chest hurt when I breathe in deeply?

As we know, the 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.

Myocarditis is perhaps one of the perfect examples of how a heart condition could lead to unwarranted pain. This condition not only causes chest pain but also fever and fatigue. You will have problems breathing and might a faster heartbeat or palpitations. Sometimes there are no signs of the blockage such as those associated with angina or chest pain.

Lung-related Causes

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 increases 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.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

It is a chronic symptom of damage to the mucosal lining of the esophagus due to reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. This condition is caused due to abnormal relaxation of the esophageal sphincter or due to the improper expulsion of the gastric juices or due to a condition is known as a hiatal hernia. It can either be permanent or temporary.

A particular type of acid reflux causes respiratory and laryngeal symptoms. It is called ‘laryngopharyngeal reflux’ or LPR or ‘extraesophageal reflux disease’. However, unlike gastroesophageal reflux disease, this condition doesn’t cause heartburn. This condition is also known as ‘silent reflux’.

The most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease include heartburn, regurgitation, and trouble in swallowing food, a condition known as dysphagia. Other less common symptoms include a sore throat, excessive salivation, nausea and pain in the chest region.

Muscle Strain

Excessive activities may lead to chest pain especially when you cough hardly, this may lead to injury or inflame in the muscle between the ribs.

Coughing will tend to occur when you are breathing in and this could be the reason for the chest pain when breathing in. The coughing hurts the delicate tissues surrounding the lungs and this is the reason for the pain that you are going through.

Other Causes

There are other causes of pain in chest when breathing other than heart problems. One example of the cause for this kind of health condition is pleurisy. Pleurisy occurs when the lining of your lungs becomes inflamed. When a person has this condition, he will feel pain in his chest when he breathes and coughs. Another cause of pain in the chest that is related to breathing is pneumonia. Bacteria commonly cause pneumonia and one of its symptoms is chest pain when breathing. Other symptoms of pneumonia are high fever, shaking, coughing, muscle pains and sweating.

Pneumothorax is another cause of chest pains when breathing. This medical condition is a result when the lungs of a person collapse. Another condition that may cause chest pains when breathing is a pulmonary embolism. This health condition occurs when the arteries that are pumping blood to the lungs become clogged. Other symptoms caused by this condition are sweating, discoloration of the skin turning it into a bluish color, blood in a cough, and difficulty in breathing.

Costhodontritis is another disease that can cause chest pains when breathing. This condition happens when the cartilage in the middle of the sternum and the ribs become inflamed. Another symptom of this condition is coughing. Pericarditis is another health condition that causes chest pain when breathing. The problem with this condition is that it causes no other symptoms and it is often mistaken for a heart attack. The good news about this condition is that bed rest and medication can treat it.

The last health condition in this piece that causes chest pain when breathing is broken ribs and this happens if the patient underwent trauma. If you had trauma and you felt chest pain when breathing there is a great chance that you have a broken rib. The best thing for you to do when you experience pain in chest when breathing is to go to your doctor.


Breathing should not hurt at but in some cases it does. People with pneumonia for instance experience this pain. Oxygen is forced in through the narrowed tubes. This is because there is a lot of mucus which has lined up the tubes, causing the obstruction. When this happens, you will have chest pain when breathing in. Worth noting is that the mucus is produced as a result of inflammation in the airwaves.

The lungs could be affected such as in the case of the collapsed lungs. When air flows into the lungs finds lungs which have ceased functioning well due to infection. One will feel pain in such a situation.

Pain will be experienced mostly in people who have underlying problems like an injury in the chest such as an accident. If the impact was huge, one will breathe with difficulty since there will be a blockage in the area in the lungs where the gaseous exchange takes place.

Only tests can help to determine the exact cause of the pain but as we have already seen, any of those aforementioned could contribute the pain.

Breathing deeply is not easy for everyone, but it is even worse for those who have been getting involved in unhealthy lifestyles. If for instance, you smoke, you damage the lungs so much that the lungs collapse over time. It will reach a point whereby you will not be able to engage in deep breathing.

Since one cannot engage in such deep breathing, the capacity of the lungs is reduced and one has to breathe fast and in gasps to compensate for this anomaly.

It is advisable to avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Instead, one should engage in exercise, eat well and cut weight. In only a short time, one will be able to recover much of the functions of the lungs. Otherwise, one will need medications to manage the situation before it becomes fatal.

Muscle strain, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, 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.

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