Lung pain – causes, treatment

Lung pain

The lungs are responsible for gas exchange and continuously supply the human body with oxygen. Lung pain is a symptom that can be triggered by various causes. The respective diagnostics, treatment and prognosis are therefore based on the suspected or confirmed underlying disease. Regardless of the cause, certain breathing techniques can alleviate the symptoms. Basically, a healthy lifestyle with sufficient exercise and a balanced diet should be striven for. Since tobacco consumption is a massive risk factor for numerous lung diseases, smoking should be avoided.

What is lung pain?

The lungs are an essential organ in the human body responsible for gas exchange. It is directly linked to the heart via veins and arteries . The lungs supply both the heart and the rest of the body with sufficient oxygen .

For this purpose, oxygen-poor blood is converted into oxygen-rich blood in the smallest air sacs of the lungs , the alveoli. The waste product of this gas exchange is carbon monoxide. This is released back into the outside air in regular breaths. Since the lungs come into direct contact with the outside air, many environmental influences, such as fine dust, can damage the lungs and cause lung pain.

Lung pain is pain of varying severity that occurs in the region of the organ. These can be felt, among other things, by stinging or throbbing in the chest. Lung pain can be acute but also chronic. Depending on the cause, the lung pain can occur in very different intensities.


The causes of lung pain are very diverse. There are numerous harmless causes of lung pain. However, serious underlying diseases can also lead to lung pain.

The most harmless cause of lung pain is heavy physical exertion. Long and intensive endurance training in particular can lead to short-term pain in the lung region.

Furthermore, flu infections in the respiratory region are often responsible for the pain in the lungs. The pathogens can be of different types. Viruses as well as bacteria and fungi can cause infections of the upper or lower respiratory tract.

Bronchitis can often be the cause of lung pain. This can occur when a cold has not been completely cured. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD for short, can also cause pain in the lungs. Long-time smokers in particular can be affected.

Lung pain can also be caused by allergies . The bronchial tubes constrict as a result of contact with allergens . As a result, some patients experience lung pain. In addition, asthmatics can suffer from short-term lung pain.

Lung cancer must also be ruled out as a cause of long-lasting lung pain.

Other diseases and symptoms that can lead to lung pain are tuberculosis, certain metabolic diseases, paralysis of the diaphragm, pulmonary edema, diphtheria, heart failure, inflammation of the larynx or esophagus, pulmonary embolism, cystic fibrosis, SARS, pseudocroup, cough, pleural effusion and pneumothorax .

diseases with this symptom


Because the causes of lung pain are so varied, various complications can also occur. Even with harmless causes, such as an infection of the respiratory tract, serious consequences can occur.

If the patient is not treated properly or is not treated at all, a harmless flu-like effect can damage the lung tissue in the long term and lead to massive functional restrictions. Transfers of infections and inflammations to other organs cannot be ruled out either. Another complication is the possibility of an acute condition turning into a chronic one. Improper treatment of bronchitis can lead to chronic bronchitis .

Even with serious causes, such as lung cancer, the focus of the disease can spread to other organs and lead to serious consequences.

There is a risk of allergic shock, particularly in the case of severe allergy sufferers. An allergic shock can sometimes be fatal. This is particularly often the case when timely treatment fails to materialize. Many allergy sufferers therefore always have an emergency medication to hand.

When should you go to the doctor?

Since lung pain can also be caused by diseases that require treatment, a doctor’s visit is unavoidable in certain cases. If the lung pain occurs after strenuous physical exertion such as a long-distance run and then subsides again promptly, this is a normal physical reaction.

A doctor’s visit is not necessary. However, if lung pain persists and/or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.

In principle, the first point of contact is the general practitioner . If necessary, the doctor will refer the patient to a specialist, such as an ENT . If the lung pain occurs very suddenly without an identifiable cause and in combination with shortness of breath , those affected should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.


A physical examination is usually preceded by an anamnesis interview. The doctor treating you will ask whether other symptoms have occurred in addition to the lung pain. It is also important when, where and at what intensity the pain occurs. The exact localization is difficult to estimate. It is also relevant whether certain living conditions have changed or whether an accident is the possible cause of the lung pain.

The next step is to physically examine the patient. First, the patient is asked to undress at the top so that the doctor can identify any external discomfort. Hematomas and/or irritation may be visible, which can indicate a specific clinical picture. He will also try to determine whether the sound has changed by tapping gently at chest level. An altered sound can be an indication of a build-up of fluid in the organ. The patient is also listened to via a stethoscope . Rattling breathing sounds can indicate bronchitis, among other things.

Depending on the suspected diagnosis, further tests are then carried out. Some can be done in a general practitioner’s office, while more specialized tests usually require a specialist visit. Spirometry , a measurement of air pressure, lung volume and respiratory resistance , can be used to further check lung function . In some cases, a blood sample is taken to determine the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood.

If the problem occurs in combination with breathing difficulties, a skin prick test is often ordered. This is an allergy diagnostic tool for detecting hypersensitivity reactions. In addition, medical imaging procedures such as ultrasound , MRT or CT can be ordered. These are carried out, among other things, if pneumonia is suspected.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment and therapy of lung pain is cause-related. If microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria or fungi are responsible for the lung pain, the patient is treated with antivirals , antibiotics or antifungals.

Hyposensitization is an option for allergy sufferers . In addition, avoiding the trigger factors is part of the therapy for allergy sufferers and asthmatics alike. In addition, asthmatics are treated with asthma sprays and, in acute cases, with cortisone .

Basically, inhalations can free the bronchi and combat the symptom of lung pain. Certain medicinal herbs help in particular with lung pain caused by influenza infections. These include sage , onions or horehound. In principle , homeopathic remedies can also be used. The Schuessler salts No. 4, 6, and 20 are used to treat pain in the lungs . Depending on the cause of the lung pain, these naturopathic methods cannot be recommended as the sole therapy.

Therapeutic interventions for serious diseases such as cancer cannot be generalized. Here, an individual concept for treatment and therapy must be worked out in consultation with the doctor treating you.

Outlook & Forecast

Lung pain that occurs as a result of exercise usually goes away fairly quickly. Lung pain due to infections can subside within a few days with timely and appropriate treatment. Once the disease is over, there is usually no further pain. Asthmatics and allergy sufferers have a good chance of improving their symptoms, especially if they avoid the allergens.

The prognosis and prospects of other physical causes such as cystic fibrosis and cancer are sometimes less promising. In principle, many other factors play a role in the prognosis of these diseases. These include the patient’s age, lifestyle factors and general physical and mental condition.

In addition, they are highly dependent on the respective stage of the disease and the possible treatment measures. Generally valid statements can therefore not be made, since the prospect and prognosis differ greatly from person to person.


In principle, it is important to ensure a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid pain. Luxury foods such as coffee and alcohol should only be consumed in moderation. Smoking in particular is considered a risk factor for lung cancer and COPD.

Therefore, total abstinence from nicotine and smoking in general is a promising preventive measure. Furthermore, care should be taken to ensure a sufficient, regular and varied diet. The amount of food consumed is less important than the individual components such as vitamins and minerals .

A balanced diet usually provides the body with all the necessary vitamins and minerals that are important for a healthy immune system . People with a good immune system are less susceptible to infections, which are a major cause of lung pain. Being overweight can put a strain on the lungs and should be avoided.

You can do that yourself

The lungs in particular are an organ that is heavily burdened by nicotine and tar. If you suffer from lung pain yourself, you should give up smoking if possible, or at least cut back on it.

It is also advisable to spend enough time in the fresh air. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, certain physical activities, such as diving, should not be practiced while the pain is present. Excessive physical exertion can make the symptom worse. In principle, those affected should allow themselves sufficient rest periods and try to relax.

Special breathing techniques, meditation and yoga can be helpful. It’s also important to distract yourself. Focusing on a specific symptom can contribute to the physical pain being perceived more intensely and the quality of life increasingly suffering as a result.

For asthmatics and allergy sufferers there are also special hypoallergenic covers, detergents and the like that can alleviate the symptoms. In addition, vacations in coastal regions can work wonders.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.