Your Lung Pain may not be Serious

The most serious cause of lung pain is lung cancer but other less serious conditions can also cause pain in your lungs or pain that seems to be coming from your lungs. 

If you think you may have cancer or if you have other symptoms such as persistent cough, coughing up blood, or difficulty breathing you need to be seen by your doctor immediately. You can find more information about lung cancer symptoms at   






Possible Causes of Lung Pain

• Pleurisy of the tissue covering your lung

• Pneumothorax or collapsed lung

• Infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis 

• Pleural Effusion from fluid around your lung 

• Costochondritis may imitate lung pain 


When you inhale and exhale your lungs move inside of a envelope of tissue called the pleura. There is a small amount of fluid that lubricates the space between the two layers. This allows your lungs to move smoothly and pain free, sliding within this covering.

When it becomes dried out or inflamed the pleura rubs against your lung like sandpaper, causing severe chest pain with every breath. If you have pleurisy holding your breath will stop the pain. 

Causes of pleurisy can include:

          • Infections of the pleura, which may be bacterial, viral, or fungal 

          • Autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid disease 

          • Other lung diseases like a cystic fibrosis or asbestosis 

          • Idiopathic pleurisy is diagnosed when an exact cause cannot be found 


Lung infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis will cause an inflammation and swelling. When this becomes severe it will also cause lung pain.

Pleural Effusion

Pleural Effusion can occur when fluid accumulates in the pleural space which surrounds each of your lungs. As the amount of fluid increases it causes additional pressure on your lungs and pain in your chest.


A pneumothorax can develop when there is an accumulation of air between the pleura and the lung from trauma, surgery, or serious lung diseases. 

This will cause shortness of breath and lung pain. You may have a small pneumothorax that requires only observation, or a larger problem that requires more aggressive treatment.


Costochondritis is pain and inflammation of the cartilage connections where your ribs attach to your sternum in the front of your chest. You can also have back pain and inflammation at the small joints where your ribs attach to your spine.

Your ribs move with every breath, so when this cartilage or these small joints become inflamed it can cause pain that appears to be coming from your lungs.

What You Should Do

Any time that you think you're having pain from your lungs you need to be seen by your doctor. It may be something minor that can be treated with over the counter anti-inflammatories, but it may also be a sign of something more serious. 

Your doctor can examine you and order the appropriate tests to find out what is causing your pain so you can get back to living your life pain free.



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