Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why do I have chest pain when I breathe in? "

ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have chest pain when I breathe in?


I am 33 w HBP. It hurts to breathe in, this only strated today so I haven't taken anything for it. I have HBP & just tested positive for TB.


There are many causes for chest pain including the ones you mentioned such as a TB infection. Pleuritic pain or pain on breathing is usually due to inflammation of the pleural cavity. This is a potential space like a collapsed balloon wrap around your entire lungs. A number of problems can lead to inflammation and thus pain of this space including infection from virus, bacteria such as TB, fungi, or immunologic reaction such as rheumatic diseases. A person can also get pleuritic pain from pneumonia, pneumothorax (air in this potential sac), pleural effusion (fluid accumulation in the potential sac), or tumors. It is necessary to get a physical exam by a physician followed by potential imagings like a chest x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, or an MRI to further characterize the cause. Sometimes it only takes a chest x-ray, and perhaps a fluid sample, or biopsy of the pleura to get the diagnosis. A pleural effusion analysis can often tell you a lot about the condition, but a biopsy is sometimes necessary when other tests do not give a conclusive answer. Often, TB can be very difficult to grow so it is not uncommon that the culture may just show up negative. I would suggest that you visit a primary care doctor soon who needs to figure out what makes the most likely diagnosis and order the tests accordingly. Chest pain is not something to ignore.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.