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What causes chest pain and shortness of breath?

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Quick Answer

Conditions that cause chest pain and shortness of breath include pneumothorax, claims Mayo Clinic. Pneumothorax occurs when a lung collapses. In this case, the chest pain and shortness of breath occur suddenly. Bacterial pneumonia is another cause of chest pain and shortness of breath, says WebMD. Pleurisy and pulmonary embolism also cause the conditions, according to MedicineNet.

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Bacterial pneumonia not only causes shortness of breath, but the pain in the chest wall worsens when the patient tries to cough or breathe in, says WebMD. Other symptoms are a productive cough where the mucus might be green, rust-colored or streaked with blood; fever; intense chills; and fatigue. The patient also has a fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Bacterial pneumonia can be a complication of the flu or a cold.

Pleurisy is when the membranes that line the inner wall of the chest and the lungs become inflamed, says MedicineNet. Like pneumonia, the pain in the chest is aggravated when the patient tries to breathe in. The patient also feels a tenderness around the lungs that can be felt in the back or the shoulder. Pleurisy is often a complication of other conditions such as tuberculosis, cancer and pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that has traveled to the lung, states MedicineNet. A patient with an embolism also has a productive cough, is anxious and has a fast heartbeat.

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