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My Chest Hurts When I Breathe While Running

By Michelle Kulas

Chest pain is always scary, especially when it occurs upon taking a deep breath. This can be caused by one of several conditions, some benign and others dangerous. If you are running and your chest hurts, stop what you are doing. If it does not resolve quickly, seek emergency medical care.

Exercise Induced Asthma

If you have asthma, you are already familiar with the coughing, wheezing and chest tightness that accompanies an attack. Even if you do not normally suffer from these symptoms, however, chest pain along with shortness of breath while running may indicate exercise-induced asthma. These symptoms usually begin several minutes after you start running, and may last for up to an hour after you stop. Running in cold weather may make the condition worse. Your doctor might give you medications to take before or after running to help prevent or treat an attack.

Heart Pain

The first thing that may come to mind if you experience chest pain while running is a heart attack. If your pain gets worse upon taking a deep breath, notes the American Council on Exercise, it is likely not related to your heart -- as heart attack pain does not typically get worse with respiration. The symptoms of a heart attack include a crushing pain, pain down your left arm or jaw, chest tightness, fatigue and sudden weakness or fainting. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

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Muscle Strain

While running, you may strain a muscle in your chest wall or elsewhere in your upper torso. This can cause pain, and if the muscle is near your diaphragm or in your chest wall, this discomfort may get worse when you take a deep breath. You may be able to determine where the strained muscle is by moving your body and noting which movements make the pain worse. If you have strained a muscle, rest the area. Apply ice or heat for comfort, and if it does not get better within a few days, see your doctor.

Lung Infection or Blood Clot

Sudden pain upon taking a breath may indicate a lung infection, such as pneumonia or pleurisy. If you have had a cold or mild respiratory infection and develop pain while running, see your doctor to evaluate you for a lung infection. A pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in the lung, is another condition that might cause sudden pain upon taking a deep breath. Any sharp pain upon breathing that does not go away after several minutes warrants a trip to your doctor.

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