Chest Hurts When I Breathe: Should I Be Worried?

What’s not to worry about your chest hurting when you breathe? However, it would be best to take a deep breath because many times, the cause is not your worst fear.

Painful breathing is a cold sensation ranging from mild to severe pain. Additionally, the pain can even lead to difficulty in breathing.
While factors like air quality and body position can be causes, a painful chest when breathing is usually a problem. Therefore, it would be best to seek medical attention immediately. Read on.

What Makes The Chest Hurt When Breathing?

Sometimes, a burn, bruise, hard impact, or any other injury to the chest can make it hurt when breathing. Conversely, other causes may be unclear hence the need for seeing a doctor for an examination.

Chest hurting when breathing can be due to short-term illnesses and even severe issues with the heart or lungs.


In some cases, even the common cold can make your chest hurt when breathing. However, painful breathing is common in serious illnesses. Usually, people experience difficulty in breathing when they are lying down due to various problems.

Such illnesses include:

Bronchitis: It’s an illness of the breathing tubes in the lungs, usually from an infection or inflammation

Pleurisy: A condition causing inflammation on the thin lining of the chest cavity or lungs

Pneumonia: Infection of the lung from a virus, bacteria, or fungus

Shingles: A sore infection from the recurring chickenpox virus

Tuberculosis: A severe lung infection from bacteria

Heart Disease

Heart disease is another common cause of hurting the chest when breathing. With heart disease, you will experience breath shortages and discomforts.
Types of heart diseases that cause painful breathing to include;

Angina: Decreased blood flow to the heart
Heart attack: A blocked flow of blood to the heart
Heart failure: Inadequate ability to pump blood  
Pericarditis:  Sharp pain from swelling of the sac around the heart

Lung Disorders and Injuries

With lung problems, the painful breathing is likely to be long-term. You will experience pain with normal breathing, and deeper breathing will cause coughs as well.

Lung problems include;

  • Asthma
  • Broken ribs
  • Inhalation of smoke or chemical
  • Costochondritis: A swelling on the bridge between the spine, ribs, and breast bone.
  • Empyema: Infected pus collecting at the lining of the chest cavity
  • Pneumothorax: A crumbled lung
  • Pulmonary embolism: A blocked lung artery

How to Treat Painful Breathing

The cause of the painful breathing will determine the mode of treatment. Some require lifestyle changes like weight loss and proper diet. Others need antibiotics and long-term care and management.

Changing Positions

If lying down causes your chest to hurt when you breathe, you should try elevating the head with a pillow. When sitting down, ensure you achieve a proper posture. You have to rest your feet flat on the ground, relax your shoulders, and rest your elbows on the armrests.

When standing, your feet should be apart shoulder-width, hips against the wall, and relax shoulders.

Short-Term Solutions

Aside from medications, there are other short-term remedies to help with painful breathing.
You could try doing lighter workouts like yoga. The main objective is to improve your breathing. Therefore, exercises like yoga will help you meditate and focus on how you do it.

Long-Term Care Solutions

Lowering your risks of lung infection that will cause painful breathing involves;

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Workplace toxins
  • Dust and fumes
    If you have asthma, it will help if you continue your treatment plan to reduce breathing pain.
    In summary, don’t ignore the chest pains when you breathe, even though mild. Visit your doctor about how you are feeling for the correct diagnosis.