The Reasons Why Every Pain With Breathing Should Be Considered Seriously

By Melody Lee |
|7 min read


Painful respiration while breathing can range from a mild inconvenience to experiencing sharp pains. It almost always represents a severe medical problem which requires quick medical care. The first step is to go to the doctor, who will determine the cause of this condition, and suggest possible treatment options. In particularly severe cases, he will recommend your going to a specialist.

There are various reasons for feeling any sharp pains when breathing in your chest, including a chest injury, broken ribs, pneumothorax, diseases connected with lungs (cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, pleurisy, shingles, lung injury, emphysema, asthma, empyema), as well as heart diseases (angina, heart failure, pericarditis). The most common health conditions are described in more detail and listed below.

Causes and Symptoms of Painful Breathing

  • Bronchitis
    Bronchitis is an acute (it follows a viral infection or a cold) or chronic (the result of previous illness, environmental factors, or smoking) disease caused by bacteria or viruses which irritate the bronchi (bronchial tubes) and cause their swelling. The chest pain and reduced breathing are the first symptoms of this infection.

  • Pleurisy (Pleuritis)
    Pleurisy is a condition where the linings around the lungs are inflamed, is usually a consequence of a viral infection of the lungs. The most common symptoms of this condition are painful respiration, sharp pain in the middle of the back when breathing, and a constant ache in one or both sides of the chest.

  • Pneumonia
    Pneumonia is a lung infection. There are thirty different causes of this complication of various respiratory diseases including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. The main symptoms are a cough, fever, shortness of breath, and sharp chest pain when breathing.

  • Asthma
    Asthma is a chronic disease which occurs due to the joint combination of inherited genes and the environment. Every contact with allergens leads to a narrowing and swelling of the airways, which become sore and sensitive. Lungs don't get enough air causing coughing and chest pains, especially during the night.

  • Shingles
    Shingle is a painful infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus which damages individual nerves and the skin surface on one side of the human torso. Symptoms include pain, a red rash, sensitivity to touch, painful breathing, and itching.

Home Remedies of Painful Breathing

Without exception, painful breathing should be considered seriously, requiring treatments under professional care. Various home remedies can be helpful and facilitate existing symptoms, but when some unexpected problem appears, visiting your physician must be considered mandatory.

For Pleurisy

Except for taking medication such as Ibuprofen to relieve inflammation and pain and getting plenty of rest, the essential requirements for reducing symptoms of pleurisy are a changing in lifestyle and using some proven home remedies.

  • Heat packs
    These practical packs, in combination with Olbas Oil, will positively affect the area and soothe breathing.

  • Humidifying
    Moistening the air with a humidifier will facilitate breathing and consequently alleviate a coughing and chest pains.

  • Celery
    Regardless if eaten raw or cooked, its antispasmodic properties will release the stabbing pain which usually accompanies lung pleurisy.

  • Oranges
    They strengthen the immune system and relieve the symptoms of pleurisy.

  • Pleurisy root tea
    This expectorant herbal tea eliminates mucus which can ease breathing.

  • Basil leaves
    Eating 20g of leaves in the morning before breakfast can dry the pleural fluid.

  • Ginger
    Thanks to its healing properties, it can burn mucus and help improve any problems related to poor exhaling and inhaling.

  • Black seed
    This spice strengthens the immune system and can help to cure pleurisy.

  • Olive leaves
    Oleuropein from these leaves reduces the effects of infection.

For Pneumonia

Medications are the only way of curing pneumonia, but proper rest and diet will help in the recovery. Eucalyptus, peppermint, and saltwater gargles will help to soothe a scratchy throat. Inhaling moist, warm air and drinking a cup of black tea or coffee will decrease problems with shortness of breath. Taking turmeric tea and ginger will ease chest pain.

For Shingles

Unfortunately, there is no effective home remedy for shingles. But, it is possible to help the skin heal by keeping the affected area dry and clean. Cold water will soother pain, and an aqueous solution of baking soda can naturally calm itching. This healing bath may reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Also, acupuncture can help to release the pain.

Professional Medical Treatments

Treatment for the sharp pain when breathing will vary depending on the cause and can include:

  • Antibiotics
    They can be a perfect remedy for bacterial pneumonia.

  • Antiviral medications
    Antiviral drugs prevent viruses from spreading to the body. For example, Acyclovir is an excellent remedy for Shingles.

  • Cough medicine
    They should be used for calming a cough, which will help a patient to rest.

  • Painkillers
    Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen act symptomatically to alleviate the pain.

  • Fever reducers
    The advantage of taking Aspirin is that it reduces fever quickly.

  • Bronchodilators
    These medications relax bronchial muscles and open the bronchial tubes which makes breathing easier.

  • Thoracentesis
    Draining the fluid from the chest cavity will relieve the pain and make breathing easier. But, sometimes this procedure may cause a patient's condition to worsen because the two pleural surfaces rub can directly with every breath without the fluid lubrication.

  • Surgery
    In severe cases, inserting a shunt (small tube) into the chest cavity will help to redirect the fluid into the abdomen. It is a practical way for its removal from the body.

Preventions and Warnings

As far as a problem with a sharp pain when breathing is concerned, it is difficult to prevent it without treating the primary infection. But, there are some tips to reduce the chances of the appearance of respiratory diseases which themselves can lead to pain while breathing:

  • A healthy lifestyle
    Including proper hygiene, proper rest, and a healthy diet will reduce the risk of infection by improving the immune system.

  • Water
    Drinking extra fluids will help to eliminate congestion.

  • Supplements
    Taking supplements (Zinc, vitamin C) will bolster the immune system.

  • Smoking
    When it comes to any respiratory disease, smoking is a critical issue. Quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke can be essential to maintain healthy lungs.

  • Vaccination
    Regular vaccinations will decrease the chances of getting infections which can be a cause of pleurisy or pneumonia. Also, it is the only way to prevent an occurrence of shingles.

  • Avoid potential sources of a disease
    Keeping away from people who have a cold and avoiding pollutants (including environmental toxins and allergens) whenever possible are crucial for maintaining healthy lungs.

  • Adequate treatment
    Early treatment of the underlying disease will prevent the development of complications and additional symptoms.

  • Special circumstances
    Avoiding any effort at high elevations, especially higher than 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), and checking the availability of extra oxygen in a bottled delivery system is recommended for those who suffer a lung infection.


Every sharp pain when breathing in the chest which is followed by high fever (up to 105 F) and coughing are the warning signs for calling you to see a doctor. Smoking cessation, regular vaccinations, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are ways to bolster the immune system and increase the chances of avoiding these uncomfortable issues.



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