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What is the Connection Between Bronchitis and Chest Pain?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Bronchitis and chest pain are related because one of the primary symptoms of the condition is pain or burning in the chest. Some patients also report a heavy feeling due to the inflamed tissue and mucus collection present in the lungs. In most cases, the best way to treat the pain is to get rid of the bronchitis or provide treatment for long-term cases.

There are two main types of bronchitis. One is short-term and is typically caused by some kind of bacterial or viral infection of the lungs. Passages become inflamed and an overproduction of mucus generally takes place. This is what causes bronchitis and chest pain to occur together, as the inflammation often results in a burning feeling in the chest during breathing. Coughing can exacerbate this symptom.

Another type of inflammation is long-term and usually presents itself in smokers. This can happen in combination with other lung conditions or alone and is often hard or impossible to cure unless smoking is ceased. Bronchitis and pain in the chest both generally occur and can become more severe over time. Breathing is generally greatly affected and use of medications and oxygen are common.

Aside from bacteria and smoking, other conditions may be related to bronchitis and chest pain. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is a risk factor for developing the condition, along with living in areas with high levels of air pollution. Being around smokers and inhaling secondhand smoke is another cause. Most viral or bacterial versions clear up on their own or with the aid of cough medications.

Treatment for short-term bronchitis and chest pain may also include antibiotics to kill any bacteria which may be causing the infection. Use of breathing medications and oxygen may be needed in severe cases or in young children, when the condition is considered more life-threatening. These treatments may be needed for life in those with long-term bronchitis in order to prevent premature death and various other complications. Breathing machines can be used for either type in very severe circumstances.

Symptoms of bronchitis include a “wet” cough which results in mucus that is yellow or green in color, sore throat, fever, wheezing, heaviness and/or burning in the chest, and fatigue. Trouble breathing is also common. While bronchitis is always a serious medical condition, it is potentially fatal in infants and very young children as well as in the elderly and those with preexisting lung conditions. Treatment should be sought immediately.

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Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Jan 12, 2013

@pastanaga - That really sucks. I've only had bronchitis once, but once was enough. I actually just thought it was a really bad flu at first, and it was probably originally caused by that, but eventually it started to hurt to breathe deeply and I decided I probably needed some antibiotics, so I went to the doctor.

Unfortunately, it was viral bronchitis, so antibiotics wouldn't help and there wasn't much the doctor could do aside from give me some meds to make me feel a bit better. It had to clear by itself.

By pastanaga — On Jan 11, 2013

My mother worked for years in a bar with a lot of heavy smokers and she's paying for it now, even though she never smoked herself. She gets lung infections at the drop of a hat and has had bronchitis a couple of times.

She says the worst thing about it is that she often feels like she can't breathe and even after the infection is gone, the cough takes a long time to clear up each time.

It just makes me really angry, and happy that in most places now it's illegal to smoke inside. I used to smoke myself (although I quit five years ago) and I would never smoke inside for this very reason.

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