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Have breathing difficulty and sharp pain in lower rib cage. Could this be chest infection?

Apr 2013
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Answered by

General Surgeon
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 9351 Questions
My girlfriend has had a 3 day history of feeling somewhat restricted in her breathing at the end of expiration. She is now suffering (today) from a "stitch" like pain in the central lower portion of her rib cage... Apparently there is some sort of illness going around her work. Can a chest infection cause "stitch" like pain?
Leaning forward eases her breathing difficulty some what, this morning when waking she felt fine.
She has had no other symptoms other than some fatigue, but that could likely be attributed to her job (12 hr days, 9 on, 5 off).
Posted Tue, 16 Apr 2013 in Lung and Chest disorders
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 1 hour later
Hi and welcome to XXXXXXX
Such difficulties usually are resulting from 3 reasons. First one is pleural or diaphragmatic irritaion usually caused by any kind of infection, abssceses or trauma.
Infection would be associated with fever, cough and fatigue so if she doesnt experience that we can rule this out.
Second reason which I think is most probable in your case is gastric disorder called hiatal hernia or GERD. It would affect her diaphragm while breathing especially while she is bloated.Also such symptoms are relieved while leaning forward and aggravated while sitting or lying or being stressed. Also heartburn is usually felt.
Third cause is anxiety. It definitely causes innability to take a deep breath and fatigue.

Hiatal hernia and gerd can be ruled out by gastroscopy. This may be unpleasant test,but if her symtpoms persist it must be done, and she should start with antiacid therapy.
Anxiety is primary treated by changing lifestyle habbits,but she can visit her GP for some muscle relaxing drugs and benzodiazepins.
Hope I have answered your query. If you have any further questions I will be happy to help"
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have breathing difficulty and sharp pain in lower rib cage. Could this be chest infection? 19 minutes later
Dear Dr Romic, thank you for your response. She is an otherwise well, young woman with a normal range BMI, so I don't believe a hiatus hernia is likely. But anxiety, GERD or infection are certainly reasonable.

She is experiencing fatigue she tells me and now malaise and new onset anorexia.

Unfortunately she is remotely located with her work and has limited access to doctors. She will be seeking medical advice tomorrow if her symptoms persist or worsen.

Thank you again for your response.
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 25 minutes later
Hi. Hiatus hernia doesnt need to be associated with obesity.
Nothing will happen in short time.she doesnt need to hurry to doctor.
Most important thing is that she breathes as normal as possible,avoid stress and not to panic because it makes situation worse. tell her to lay with upper body elevated while sleeping and try to notice any new symptom i ve mentined. i ve no doubt that she will be ok. this is really common condition in young people. i am glad to be helpful.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have breathing difficulty and sharp pain in lower rib cage. Could this be chest infection? 0 minute later
Thank you once again for your speedy response
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 2 hours later
Always at your service,sir.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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