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- Mon Sep 12, 2005 2:53 pm
Hi, I'm a 27 yr old female who works as a production assistant for a local news company and is a full time student studying to be a radiology tech. I just recently had a bout with bronchitis and am still recovering....about 2 days ago I woke up coughing really hard and as a result I've had a sharp pain under my right arm and front of chest that also causes a dull pain in my back. At first I thought that I'd just tore a muscle from coughing so hard, but I've torn muscles before and I don't recall them feeling this way. I still have a cough so you can bet I'm in some pretty awful pain when I cough, sneeze, take a deep breathe or move a certain way, such as pushing or pulling, picking up things. The only thing that comes to mind is that it might be a fractured or cracked rib. I don't want to go to the doctor b/c I cannot afford it right now. What does it sound like to you? Do I need to seek medical attention? My problem is that if I go to the doctor and get x-rays, what could they do about it if it is a cracked rib? I've only heard of old people getting cracked ribs from coughing, does it happen to young healthy people too?
- Tue Sep 13, 2005 9:55 pm
It's possible you could have pulled a muscle in your chest wall. If you are not experiencing difficult breathing, or pain as you normally breathe, it's probably not a broken or cracked rib. Very deep breaths could aggravate an already strained muscle, but can also be symptomatic of something more serious.
If you are having trouble breathing, "air hunger," can't get enough air, excessive wheezing despite clearing sputum with coughing, hurts to breathe normally, etc., you need to see a doctor for proper assessment and diagnosis.
Assuming you were treated for bronchitis, if symptoms do not clear up shortly (bronchitis symptoms can last a few weeks, but should be diminishing, not worsening), you should see your doctor.
There are numerous other causes for symptoms like yours, some of which can be serious, and if your symptoms have been worsening, you need further evaluation. Your bronchitis could have progressed to pneumonia and the pain you are experiencing could be "pleurisy" which is an inflamation of the lining/sac around the lungs. This would need treatment.
Possible causes or aggravating factors for coughs can include everything from smoking to certain medications, to new exposure to animals, a lung infection from birds called psittacosis, TB, to asthma . . . and others. It is very important that the cause of any cough be determined.
Meanwhile, in general for upper respiratory infections, besides any medical treatment by your doctor, OTC cough medicines may help relieve your cough and allow the strain to heal. When you do cough, try to splint the affected side with a snug pillow or rolled up towel or small blanket, to minimize the strain and discomfort.
As always, plenty of water to help liquify secretions will assist in clearing any congestion faster. You should certainly avoid overtaxing yourself. . . don't pull, push, or lift anything that aggravates your symptoms.
If such pain persists despite your efforts to control it, please see do not hesitate to see your doctor.
Hope this helps and that you're feeling better soon.