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By Anonymous March 27, 2010 - 1:31pm
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I'm 25, female, 5 feet 4 inches, 120 pounds, and very active. Around Halloween of this year I was sitting in a chair and had sudden chest pain radiating to my left shoulder. It was very hard to take a deep breath because of the pain. No shortness of breath or nausea. I thought for sure I was having a heart attack at age 25. I went to the ER, where they did all the heart tests and they all came back negative. They said it was probably just pleurisy. The pain went way down within an hour, however the shoulder pain remained. I had the pain for a few days, as well as when i would bend over it was as if fluid were moving around on the left side of my body. A couple weeks later I went rock climbing and had the same thing happen again, only this time I didn't worry because I knew it wasn't heart related. I rested for the next week, felt as though it healed, a few weeks later I played soccer and of course it happened again...same thing, i rested a week, got better. It didn't happen again until this week (3 months later) so I finally went back in to the doctor, they did another chest X-Ray, the ones previously didn't show anything, however this one showed a 10-20% collapsed lung on my left side. She referred me to a pulmonologist, who was in a huge hurry and basically said that I needed to have surgery (pleurodesis). I feel like it was just kind of a rushed decision, no known reason why this keeps happening, and i feel like I should know why it's happening before they just go in and do surgery. Are there any questions I should be asking them to get more information? And what is the surgery like? what is the recovery process like? What would happen if I didn't have the surgery? Are there any alternatives to the surgery? please help!!!

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EmpowHER Guest

Hi anonymous,

Thank you for your question and I am sorry to hear your having such issues as a young woman. Do you experience sharp pains every time you breathe in?

If you want my opinion, go get a second opinion. There is certainly something going on with you that is causing the severe pain when you are active. Did you have any trauma to the lung area? Did you fall and hurt yourself?

Information from the Mayo Clinic indicates that pleurisy is commonly caused by the following:

An acute viral infection, such as the flu (influenza)
Pneumonia, in those cases in which the infected portion of your lung involves the surface of the pleura
Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune hepatitis
Tuberculosis and other infections
A clot in an artery of your lungs (pulmonary embolism)

Does any of these things sound familiar? You didn't mention sickness prior to your first episode. On the other hand, a collapsed lung may be caused by pleurisy.

Symptoms of pleurisy (a collection of fluid in the lung) are bluish skin, coughing, shortness of breathe and rapid breathing. All of these things you didn't mention either. Actually, you mentioned that you did not have shortness of breathe.

When all the ducks are not fitting in a row, I would certainly seek a second opinion. Find another Pulmonologist and get retested. Here is a link to information on Pleurisy from Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001371.htm.

Will you please keep us updated on what you find out?

March 28, 2010 - 10:53am
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