Chest pain can be a scary and concerning symptom, especially when it’s accompanied by difficulty breathing. Pain on the left side of the chest when breathing is a common symptom that can have a range of causes, from mild to life-threatening. This article will explore the possible reasons why the left side of your chest hurts when you breathe.
Possible Causes of Chest Pain on the Left Side When Breathing
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest cavity that can cause sharp pain on the left side of the chest when breathing. The pain is often described as a stabbing or sharp sensation and can be worsened by deep breathing or coughing. Other symptoms may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum (breastbone). This condition can cause pain on the left side of the chest when breathing, coughing, or moving the torso. The pain is usually sharp and may be mistaken for a heart attack. It can be worsened by certain positions or movements, such as reaching or twisting.
A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the body, typically in the legs, and travels to the lungs. This can cause chest pain on the left side, along with shortness of breath, coughing, and rapid heartbeat. Pulmonary embolisms are a medical emergency and require immediate treatment.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause chest pain on the left side when breathing. Other symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Pneumonia can range from mild to severe and may require hospitalization, especially in older adults or those with weakened immune systems.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation. This can cause chest pain on the left side, along with a burning sensation in the chest, throat, and stomach. Other symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, coughing, and hoarseness.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Anxiety and panic attacks can cause chest pain on the left side when breathing, along with other symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling. These episodes can be triggered by stress, fear, or other emotional factors.
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked, causing damage to the heart muscle. Chest pain on the left side is a common symptom of a heart attack, along with shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea. If you suspect that you may be having a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately.
Chest pain on the left side when breathing can be caused by a variety of factors, from benign conditions like costochondritis to life-threatening emergencies like a heart attack or pulmonary embolism. If you experience chest pain, especially if it is accompanied by difficulty breathing, seek medical attention right away. A doctor can perform tests and determine the underlying cause of your symptoms, and provide appropriate treatment.