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What's up with random chest pain?

Dr. Roshini Raj
October 30, 2015

I sometimes feel a sharp pain when I take a deep breath. What could be wrong?

It depends on how frequent and bothersome the pain is. If you notice it only after strenuous exercise or exposure to cold air, your lungs might just be sensitive to the cold or the fast flow of air from heavy, deep breathing during your workout. Sipping a warm liquid may help ease the discomfort.

If the pain occurs more often, it usually means that something within the chest cavity is irritated, and you should talk to your doctor. You might have inflammation of the lining of the lungs (a condition known as pleurisy) or heart (pericarditis), a bruised rib, asthma or a lung infection, like pneumonia. If it's an infection, your doctor may prescribe you an antibiotic and perhaps an anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce the pain.

Health's medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare.

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