Side Effects of a Bruised Lung

A bruised lung, also called a pulmonary contusion, is a common complication following a traumatic injury to the chest. The potentially life-threatening side effects of a bruised lung typically arise slowly over the first 24 hours following injury, according to the World Health Organization. People who develop any of the side effects of a bruised lung require immediate medical care.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Chest Pain

People who sustain a bruised lung injury can develop sensations of pain in the chest, reports. The severity of chest pain side effects can vary from mild to severe, depending upon the type of injury that caused the bruising. Sensations of pain may also be more severe during inhalation, which is when the lungs expand to take in oxygen. Sudden, severe chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack and affected people should seek prompt medical care.

Breathing Difficulties

Bruising of the lung can make it difficult for this respiratory organ to function normally. Consequently, people with this type of injury can experience difficulty breathing, RapidBI explains. Those affected may also exhibit unusually shallow or fast breathing. Additionally, wheezing, which causes an audible high-pitched hissing sound upon exhalation, can occur as well.

Coughing up Blood or Spit

Small amounts of blood can collect within the lungs due to a bruised lung. If this occurs, people can begin to cough up blood or profuse amounts of spit, reports. These side effects can also occur in conjunction with chest pain or breathing difficulties. People who cough up blood for any reason should see a doctor for evaluation as soon as possible.


A lung bruise can affect the way in which the lung brings oxygen into the body. If a person's body doesn't receive enough oxygen due to this type of injury, cyanosis can develop, the WHO reports. Cyanosis is a side effect that results in a blue discoloration of a person's skin caused by low oxygen levels in the blood. An affected person's skin can also feel cool or clammy to the touch. People who develop cyanosis should contact a medical professional as soon as possible.