Difficulty breathing and chest pain are common symptoms of pleurisy, according to WebMD. People with pleurisy often experience a sudden onset of chest pain that worsens when inhaling deeply and is generally felt on just one side of the chest. The pain may extend into the abdomen or shoulder.
Chest pain caused by pleurisy often worsens with sudden movements, sneezing and coughing, notes WebMD. Holding the breath or pressing on the painful area often eases the pain. Pleurisy is the inflammation and swelling of the pleura, which are the thin tissue layers covering the chest wall and lungs. Infection of the lower respiratory system by bacteria or a virus may cause pleurisy, which lasts anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Other causes include pulmonary embolism, pancreatitis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.