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Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Male 28 - Severe stabbing pain, lower lung area comes + goes


 cnymedia - Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:30 pm

Hello and Thank you for taking the time to read this...

I am a non smoker but Over the last week I have been spitting up excessive and dark phlegm in the morning and thinking nothing of it. Two nights ago I was playing with my 6 year old and noticed a pain in my left arm/shoulder and thought nothing of it. I do not know if this is related but the other night I was coming out of a function at my sons school and all of the sudden i had sharp stabbing pains in the lower part of my chest. It did not feel like my heart and was on both sides down low like the bottom area of my rib cage. It was quite disabling and I had shortness of breath. It was difficult for me to walk to the car and my wife thought i was having a heart attack but I did not think it was my heart. After sitting in the car for a min it subsided. But once i got out of the car it started hurting again very very painfull stabbing pain. and it continued like that into today evertime i move it seems to spike, it wont be hurting than all of the sudden i get up or move and it hurts so bad . Its concentrated in one area now a small area on my right side like almost under my lung, and seems like its spreading into my upper chest area and I can feel this when I breath. It is very very painfull when it spikes, then it goes away. It is very strange and scary I have never experienced any thing like it. My wife wants me to go to the emergency room but I really hate to do that what with the swine flu thing going on I just want to leave the emergency room for a last resort. Any help or direction with this will be so much appreciated. I do have a doctors appointment for next friday, maybe you can help me sooner, I really do not want to die before thanksgiving. :)

Thank you so much.

T.R.V.
Upstate NY
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:14 am

User avatar Hello -- What you describe (including the dark sputum) sounds like it could well be pleurisy due to a lower respiratory infection or perhaps chest wall muscle injury due to coughing. The two can be quite similar and in fact often overlap. You hopefully have had the congestion and phlegm production resolved by now, but if not you can relieve a lot of that distress by taking a very simple over the counter (OTC) medicine, gauifenesin (brand name: Mucinex, a long-acting form). This has virtually no adverse side effects, is a simple expectorant, and may help you clear the rest of the crud out of your chest with less effort. As for the pain, if it is chest wall muscular or pleuritic pain (and it does very much sound like one or both) this usually will respond to OTC non-steroidal anti-inflamatories (NSAIDs) such as Aleve or Advil (naproxyn and ibuprofin respectively). It definitely doesn't sound like a heart problem. The worst case scenario probably would be that this could be caused by a pulmonary embolism PE), which could account for the dark sputum -- but so could a sinus infection with night time drainage. It's a good time of year for this sort of thing (sinus infections) to start showing up and they often drain post-nasally into the bronchial tree during sleep, with coughing and phlegm primarily in the morning. Blood is often a component of this phlegm, so it can look quite dark and rusty or greenish or yellow. It's rarely white or clear. Frank blood would suggest something more serious like a PE, but this is pretty unlikely statistically.

I hope this is helpful and that you have an excellent Thanksgiving. Hopefully you'll be fine by then. Please follow up here as needed. Good luck to you.

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