Medical Specialty >> Pulmonology

Doctors Lounge - Pulmonology Answers

Back to Pulmonology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: heaviness,pressure and burning sensations in lungs

 Croative - Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:48 pm


I am 28 yo male.Was a smoker for 10 years,I've stopped smoking 2 years ago with a relapse of one month this summer.I sometimes smoke 2-3 cigarettes in rare special occasions.During the 2004 I was diagnosed an Anxiety Disorder with Depression after experiencing strong emotional trauma while sailing on merchant ships.I have undergone a therapy and learned to live with symptoms and things were looking fine until this summer when I was exposed to a great amount of emotional stress again.At the end of September I've started to experience pain in the left side of the chest around heart. I went to my local doctor who prescribed me drugs for elevated blood pressure.After one week there was no change and symptoms worsened,pain started to radiate on left arm and neck who became stiffed and I even had one panic attack.I went to hospital did EKG and heart ultrasound and everything was fine no visible problems or deformations.I went back to my doctor and she told me its probably neurosis caused by high amount stress so I've stopped to worry so much.2 weeks ago I've smoked 3 cigarettes and few drinks and the next day I've started to feel strong pressure in my lungs after which came a burning sensation.My lungs felt kind of heavy and I've started to cough out white mucus,first I've thought it could be some kind of allergy but usually never have allergy symptoms during this time of year.And I've started to feel some pain under my left shoulder blade went to my doctor again and she directed me to a pulmonologist where I did chest X-Ray and spirometry.Both turned out fine and there were no visible problems on my lungs.Doctor gave me some antibiotics i was drinking for 5 days (today is my last day) but I don't see some major change in my state.The sensations of burning lungs,throat and pressure happen every few days for now but most of the time I have sensation of heaviness in the lungs accompanied with coughing out white mucus and dull pain around shoulder blades.Cough is more intense in the morning and after meals.I have also noticed I swallow a great amount of air while I eat and that is causing me to burp a lot after meals.I work as system and network administrator and I sit on a chair more then 12 hours a day.When I come home I again sit in front of a computer and work for many hours.Can you tell me what my lung problem might be,could it be all anxiety and stress related?
Thank you for your time and patience.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:04 pm

User avatar Hello -

While generally what you describe does sound very much like a classic somatic conversion syndrome due to anxiety and stress, the one thing that doesn't fit well with this is the productive cough, which could be, at least in part, a bizarre coincidence (these happen all the time, which is why sometiems an actual problem is missed due to the classic anxiety syndrome). It sounds as though you may have either asthma or bronchitis. The latter seems most likely because of the burning sensation you describe. You could even have a deep sinus infection which is draining into your chest postnasally during the night, which would explain the cough being worse in the morning.

I do think most of your symptoms are classic for anxiety, and I hope you'll follow up with the appropriate professional for this, since it would seem you've had a traumatic experience in the past which set this off the first time. However, if you're still taking the antibiotic medicine, please finish it whole prescription, as you may have a respiratory infection (chest or sinus) in addition. If the productive cough continues, please let your doctor know, and follow up with us here as well.

Best of luck to you. Please let us know how you are doing and if there is any additional information you feel might be helpful, please let us know.
 Croative - Fri Oct 31, 2008 4:08 am

Thank you doctor,I will keep you posted how my situation develops in the next few weeks.
Best Regards
 Croative - Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:33 am

Hello again,

Here is my situation report.After my antibiotic therapy I had no changes in my state.Cough still presisted sometimes with mucus sometimes without.I've as well started to see a therapyst due to my anxiety whic got worse due the physical symptomes I was experiencing.She put me on anti-depressant Seroxat(paroxetinum) and after one week of takeing I've developed a bad reaction to it (nausea,vomiting,restlessness and tiredness) and I've quited with pills after one week and I take now Helex(Alprazolamum 0,25) one or twice a day to help me relax and meet with my therapyst once a week.Symptoms still presisted and for a while I was thinking its was all "in my head" untill I've noticed a patern.Once after lunch I've laid down in my bed and an hour later experienced burning in my back like in lungs with pain and tightness,same happened after I went to a massage 1 hour after meal,and once when I was cleaning my yard and I was bending alot to pick up leaves from the ground 1 hour after meal as well.After I was done with work I've came back into the house and experienced same symptoms this with my throat feeling like it was on fire.I went to my primary care doctor again and she concluded I have GERD and prescribed me proton pump inhibitor Controloc(pantoprazolum 40mg).I am takeing it now for 5 days now.First week I am bound to take it two times a day once in the morning and once before I go to bed and after first week I am bound to take it once a day just before I go to bed.Therapy will last 3 weeks or more.I've started takeing small meals and not eating anything before I go to bed.I sleep with a pillow so my head is always elevated douring the night.I have noticed some little improvment I don't burb alot anymore and don't feel burning in my stomach like I've sometimes did but some other symptoms appeared.I have a mild throat inflamation that is lasting more then a week now and my doctor told me it could be easily GERD related as well as coughing after meals.Also I have sensations of lumps in my throat and esophagus like something is stuck there when I eperience those symptoms they tend to last whole day,other days they are slightly present or they are not.Throat inflamation is present all the time.I will undergo ear,throat and nose exam next week and my doctor sent me to check my thyroid hormones levels.Due to symptoms I am experiencing now is it possible my exophagus has been damaged due to GERD and if so how long is the healing perioid and when can expect some improvement?I did an alergy test as well that showed I am alergic to mold,dust,feathers,hair and plant fibers(corn,tobacco).Doctor prescribed me Telfast (fexofenadinum 180mg) to drink once a day if I feel it is necessary.I will keep you posted how things develop in next few weeks and I thank you for your time and understanding.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:12 pm

User avatar Thank you for this detailed followup. Everything, especially regarding the elaboration of the symptoms and how they are triggered, as well as the diagnosis of GERD and the treatment plan all make perfect sense. I think you may well have finally caught your suspect.

As for the injury to the esophagus and the healing time, it all depends upon the extent of irritation or even ulceration of the esophagus. The healing period can take from a few weeks to a few months, depending upon many factors, but you should at least note progressive improvement so long as you maintain the care plan, which is an excellent one and covers pretty much all the bases. Even when you feel significantly better you may require adherence to the same medications and other measures to prevent a return of the reflux. Right now it would seem you are doing everything right, and the healing appears to have begun, so you're on the right track.

I'll look forward to updates from you, especially when you've had the ENT workup. Best of luck to you.
 Croative - Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:46 am

Hello again,

I've had ear,nose throat exam and results were Diathesis Allergie,Rhinitis Allergie and was prescribed inhalatory therapy at spring time when I usualy have trouble with breathing and heavy cough.Doctor at clinic told me that throat inflamation could be easily connected to GERD but she found no evidence of throat damage or laryngitis.I went back to my primary care doctor where I have described her symptoms I am experiencing with my throat and tightness in the back.She told me that there is no need yet to see gastroenterologist and adviced me to take PPI she prescribed me before lunch instead and try to modify my lifestyle a bit more.It will take some more time to experiment in next to week to see if there is any kind of change.I've as well bought some remedies to enhance my home treatment.Those remedies include Aloe Vera juice i drink 15ml 20 min before a meal,a powder mixture containing minerals and elements who keep acid PH levels in order I drink one small glass of it after each meal and take a table spoon of honey.Symptomes I am experiencing vary from mild to moderate.One day I've had small portion of pasta and tomato souce,45 minutes later I've experienced sensations of tightness and pressure in the esophagus.I've ate one yogurt after that and felt some relif.The most common problem I have now is burning in my throat after I eat.Nearly every time I feel that symptom it lasts for an hour in its full intensity then it slowly subsides to a low level of intensity that lasts most of the day.Once I ate a small piece of a chease cake and experienced the burning aftewards so I have conculded that the quantity of food I am eating does not matter much.I wander if now I may be more sensitive on some kind of foods.My psychotherapist thinks GERD I am experiencing is closely connected to my anxiety and stress levels,and since the last 3 months of my life were dominated by those sensations I think that is a logical conclusion and I hope when my mental state improves so will my symptoms become less frequent and more easier to keep under control.I was presribed now mild antidepressant Luxeta 0,25mg (Sertralinum) to take once a day in the morning to help improve my state.(I've developed the bad reaction on the last one I was taking).Thats all for now,I will see how things develop in next few weeks and will keep you posted.Thank you for your time and patience.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:48 pm

User avatar Hello and thanks for the update. It does sound as though you've found the source of the problem. Just for the record, there are certain foods which will aggravate GERD more than others, tomato sauce being one (it has an effect similar to citrus fruits and juices) and also the cheesecake, which one wouldn't normally assume would do it, as well as whole milk (skim milk usually goes down just fine). As you've concluded, the symptoms are more affected by the type of food than the amount, although overeating will usually also trigger the effects, especially if one lies down shortly after a large meal.

Thanks again for the update and we'll look forward to more in the future. Best of luck to you.
 Croative - Thu Jan 01, 2009 5:49 pm


Here is my newest update concering my state.The therapy of PPI prescribed by my primary care doctor had a minor effect so I have decided to see gastroenterologist who performed gastroscopy.There was no damage to the esophagus and stomach lining,and there was no presence of heliobacter pyroli.Doctor found some ulceration on duodenum whic he classified as dyspepsia.He discovered that my LES is weakened for some unknown reason and that is what is causing reflux.He presribed me PPI Controloc 20mg to take in the morning and Reglan(Metoclopramidum) 10mg to take before lunch and dinner for 2 months (one month has allready passed) and told me Reglan will help with strengthening my LES. I watch how and what I eat and there are no symptoms of pressure and burning sensations in my back and if they happen occasionally they last for 2 days.The only constant symptom I have for more then a month now is sore throat and it seems I just can't get rid of it yet.My psychotherapist belives I am experiencing Psychosomatic GERD due anxiety and emotinal stress I was undergoing for last 4 months and I experience some of it even now,whic would as well explain strong acid production in my stomach whic damaged my duodenum.I hope if I manage to get my stress and anxiety levels under control that full recovery is possible and it seems to me this will last few more months.To help me manage my anxiety levels psychotherapist presribed me 3 antidepressants so far to whom I have developed bad reaction.Mostly I feel nausea,restlessness and sleepiness.Last one prescribed is Cipralex (Escitalopramum) 5mgs a day and when I take it I feel tired and sleepy most of the day.To manage my stress levels I have created some excercise programs and increased the intake of a liquid.Thats it for now,I will keep you informed how things work out for me douring the next months.I thank you for your time and understanding and I wish you happy and sucessful new year.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:43 am

User avatar Thank you for the comprehensive and positive update. It seems you and your doctors have begun to come together on what this is and what to do about it. While you may need to go through a few medications to find one that works well for you anxiety-wise, but at least you're on task there, too. It all sounds very promising and I'm glad you're so committed to making this right. Best of luck to you and we'll look forward to future updates.
 levifig - Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:36 am

I registered to let you know how this might help me with my situation.
Your symptoms are extremely similar to mine (except the anxiety, fortunately). I also suffer from sinus infection and had a pneumonia in my teens that left some marks, specifically an allergic bronchitis. I've had those GERD symptoms for some time but never looked into them. But now, after getting "the" flu earlier this summer (H1N1, which I recovered from just fine), the cough and general stickiness have not gone away, even though I did recover fine from the flu, give the absence of all other symptoms after the normal duration of the virus attack.

Now, I'm starting to relate the GERD with my constant lung irritation for the past few weeks. On most meals (especially with white meat), I get stuck swallowing the food and I've been having "liquid" reflux on most mornings on my esophagus. My doctor has prescribed me with the normal antibiotic treatment for what she thought could be postnasal draining during the night. I finished the treatment with no improvements. After reading your process, I'm starting to think my case could be a really close diagnostic to yours, so I'll bring these things to my doctor so it might help her treat this. :)

Again, thank you for taking the time to update your process, and I hope you're fully recovered from everything, and your anxiety and stress levels are back to normal.
 qtek - Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:00 pm

Hi there,
I am 25 years old male and i find out that your symptoms are very similar to mine as well! I was a smoker for 10 years as well and I've stopped smoking 2 weeks ago. I've had this problem for about almost 2 years already. Since i stopped smoking, i've had few cigarettes in few occasions(last of which was 2 days ago). First time i felt pain in the chest(right in the midle) was May, 2007 after having a cigarette and coffee back in my country. I felt shortage of breth for a minute and almost got a panick atack. Gave up smoking for the day and next morning felt a lot beter. Since that day i could feel cigarettes a lot more when i smoke, so i slowly lowered smoking hoping i will feel fine again at some point. Shortly after, i realized i have pain on left shoulder and upper back/neck which became stiffed and still are untill present day(you can also hear a crack when i move my left shoulder up and down). Few months ago I've started to experience pain in the left side of the chest around heart and right in the middle of the chest as well. I, as well stay for long periods of time behind the computer, so i was thinking this could be the reason(and the cold winters in Chicago too), but with pains in my chest comming and going I became very scared. I went to the doctor 3 days ago, and she told me my lungs sound good and i probably have shoulder problem(didn't give me x-ray). 2 days ago, i went out to a birthday party, had some cigarettes and some alcohol and yesterday i had the pains in the chest almost all day(comming and going). More often i feel short sharp short pains and sometimes it feels like a burning sensation or hartburn. Pain does not become worse with deep breaths. It is not triggered by pushing on areas of my chest. I have pressure in the throat and am coughing out white mucus for a long time but i don't actually have a cough(just feeling the need to take the mucus out)and last night i kind of think i had some problem swaloing my food.. What i notice is when i am physically active and don't think about it that much i feel better, especially after exercising. I ussualy don't have shortness of breath, but can feel/hear some wheezing right under my shoulders, when i do some streching - moving left and right with my hands behhind my head. I also had some panic attacks in the past and i do get very stressed lately having some financial problems as well as this too!

Please help!! :(

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us