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Chest pain with breathlessness, cough and breathing difficulty

Symptoms of chest pain with breathlessness, cough and breathing difficulties could be due to:

Atrial Fibrillation

Symptoms and indications: Irregular, rapid heartbeat and pulse, which are felt as unpleasant palpitations and may cause chest pain, breathlessness, faintness and weakness. There may be symptoms of Stroke because of the formation of blood clots in the heart. In severe cases, this may lead to heart failure and death. Immediate medical help should be sought if a person has these symptoms.

Treatment: Emergency medical treatment and intensive care in hospital will be required. This involves attempting to restore a normal heartbeat by means of electric shock and drug treatment. The drugs that may be used include digoxin, betablockers and calcium antagonists. Surgery and the fitting of a pacemaker is sometimes required. Underlying heart disease, responsible for the atrial fibrillation, is also treated, although this is rarely sufficient to restore the normal heartbeat on its own.

Persons most commonly affected: Adults of both sexes in middle and older age, usually with some form of heart disease or damage.

Bronchiolitis or Capillary Bronchitis

Symptoms and indications: Bronchiolitis usually develops as a result of a cold or upper respiratory tract infection. The symptoms are respiratory distress characterized by laboured, rapid, shallow breathing, constant hacking cough, flaring of the nostrils, wheezing and seesaw movements of the chest and abdomen. On listening to the chest, there are wheezing, crackling and bubbling sounds. The person may be feverish and restless or a child may be lethargic. Eventually the bronchioles and air sacs become blocked with secretions interfering with the passage of oxygen into the blood. The person shows signs of cyanosis with a bluish tinge to the skin, and death may follow from Asphyxia. In the young and old this can occur within 48 hours. A person with symptoms of bronchiolitis requires medical attention. Most patients can be treated at home under the doctor's supervision, but those showing signs of fatigue because of laboured breathing, cyanosis or dehydration need to be admitted to hospital for intensive nursing.

Treatment: At home, involves resting in bed, increasing the humidity in the air by means of steam or a humidifier to ease breathing, and drinking plenty of clear liquids. In hospital, oxygen is likely to be given by means of a tent or a face mask and fluids by intravenous drip. There may be a need for endotracheal intubation (a tube through the mouth or nose directly into the trachea) to deliver oxygen if the person is very ill.

Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes, especially infants and young children in whom it sometimes occurs in epidemics.


Symptoms and indications: In the early stages there may be few or no symptoms e.g. coal dust can be deposited in the lungs without causing much disruption of lung tissue. However, this situation may change and the patient may develop progressive massive fibrosis in which there is damage to the lungs and distruption of respiratory function. The person may be breathless, have a cough, pains in the chest, and shadows on the lungs revealed by X-rays. A person with symptoms of pneumoconiosis should seek medical advice.

Treatment: Preventative measures are mainly aimed at suppression of dust in the workplace and monitoring of workers. If X-rays reveal changes in the lungs that are a cause for concern, the person should no longer work in this environment. Treatment includes the use of various drugs such as bronchodilators and analgesics. Any infections should be promptly treated with antibiotics and the person should rest in bed during attacks, until symptoms subside.

Persons most commonly affected: Men in middle age or older who have been exposed to dust at work. Can affect adults of both sexes.


Symptoms and indications (and route of infection): Taenia saginata - the beef tapeworm (many countries including Europe). People are infected by eating undercooked beef containing the larval stages of the parasite. The worm develops into an adult inside the intestine of the infected person. Many people experience few or no symptoms. Those that can occur include pains, hunger, weight loss, gastrointestinal upset and passing segments of the worm in the stools.

Taenia solium - the pork tapeworm (many countries including Europe). People are infected by eating undercooked pork containing the larval stages (cysts) of the parasite. The larvae of this tapeworm tend to migrate and form cysts in various body tissues. Cysts may form in organs such as the brain, causing serious symptoms resembling those of a Brain Tumour.

Echinococuss granulosus - dog tapeworm (sheep-rearing countries where dogs are used; Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Middle East, Europe, USA). The disease produced is called hydatid disease. Human beings, often children, are infected by swallowing the eggs of the tapeworm, which are present in the faeces of dogs. An infected dog may pass the eggs to a person by licking or a child may pick up the eggs on the fingers while playing on the ground that is contaminated. Inside the body, the parasite larvae are carried in the blood circulation and lodge in the liver, kidneys, lungs, brain or other organs. They form cysts, called hyatids, that gradually become larger and cause symptoms due to the pressure they exert. Symptoms vary according to the organ or tissue affected. There may be chest pain, cough and coughing up of blood if the lungs are affected, Jaundice and abdominal pain, if it is the liver, blindness and Epilepsy if the brain. The cysts may rupture causing serious allergic responses including rash, fever or anaphylaxis.

Diphyllobothriasis - fish tapeworm (Europe, USA, Canada, Africa, Japan). People are infected by eating raw or undercooked fish. Symptoms are usually absent or mild but include gastrointestinal upset and, occasionally, severe Anaemia. Eggs can be seen in the stools.

Any person who has symptoms of tapeworm infestation should seek medical advice.

Treatment: In most cases is by means of drugs to kill and expel the parasite including niclosamide and praziquantel. For hydatid disease, treatment involves admittance to hospital for surgical removal of the cysts, if this is possible. Drugs, including mebendazole and albendazole, are also used in treatment, and relieve symptoms. Most tapeworm infestations can be successfully dealt with but others may cause lasting tissue and organ damage that can prove fatal. Preventative measures include vigilance when travelling abroad, in eating only meat or fish that has been verified as having been thoroughly cooked. Domestic animals and pets should be wormed regularly and strict standards of hygiene observed, especially to protect young children.

Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes.

Other problems that could cause Symptoms of chest pain with breathlessness, cough and breathing difficulties could be connected to: Angina pectoris, Aortic valve disease, Asbestosis, Cardiomyopathy, Emphysema, Mesothelioma, Pericarditis, Silicosis and others.





Our service is only to provide guidance and is not designed to replace your doctor. Please seek medical advice from your own doctor if you have any doubts about your illness.


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