Feeling Lung Pain

Mom was first diagnosed with COPD at one of her doctor visits. She had been having “tummy” troubles and felt pain down near her belly button. As the doctor pressed her hands around that area, she gently questioned mom about her health goals. Mom was always going on a health kick. Her latest had been learning to make vegetable juice. I sat near the examination table with my face close to mom's, that is until we heard the words Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. I stood and put my hands where the doctor’s had been, on mom’s abdomen. “You mean the pain she feels is from her lungs,” I asked? The doctor shook her head and confirmed that mom was feeling lung pain.

Diagnosed after feeling lung pain

It wasn’t like we didn’t know. The signs had been coming on slowly for years. I mean, we were both smokers. I had quit off and on. Mom had yet to make it 30 minutes without a cigarette in over 40 years of puffing. She started as a teen, back in the days when the effects of smoking were misunderstood. She watched her brother quit smoking, and gain lung strength over the last 20 years. It was one of those topics that brought a lot of stress. Looking back, we didn't ask a whole lot of questions. We wanted to escape the verdict. We didn't want to talk about it. Not there anyway.

I took my cues from mom. We packed up and got out fast, heading for our favorite cheeseburger place. There would be no sit-down dining. We ate in the car, anxious to talk more about what we had learned about feeling lung pain. She couldn’t believe that lung pain was part of her symptoms. She’d been through the lingering cold, allergies, and sensitivities to perfumes. Feeling lung pain, along with a diagnosis of COPD was scary. We agreed to do some research. Here is what we learned.

Reasons for feeling lung pain

Overstretched Lungs- The medical term is hyperinflated, but we called them stretched out. Mom’s lungs extended way beyond their normal space. It seems that when the air sacs in your lungs begin to weaken, the lung works hard to reach out and find ways of bringing in oxygen. Her lungs had lost their original shape and were now below her belly button. It was a blow.

Hyperinflated lungs are only one reason for lung pain.

Causes of lung pain

Tightness in the chest from thick sputum can block your airways and create pain.

Inflammation or infection can make your bronchial tubes painful upon air intake.

Hyperinflated lungs can press upon other organs and lead to abdominal pain and also pain in the chest.

Although it was super scary being told that mom’s stomach pain was due to her expanded lungs, we got through it. We talked about her fear, ate more french fries, and even cried some. Eventually, her lung pain was brought under control somewhat. It was one of the things that led her to quit smoking. Sometimes feeling lung pain can promote healthy changes. In our case, it was the beginning of many changes for her and the whole family.

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