Waking up to pneumonia pain
July 21, 2011 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Anyone else have gut-wrenching pain from pneumonia but only upon waking?

YNMD, and I spoke with my doctor's nurse today and asked her why this is. I'm unable to take a good breath during the 3-4 minutes it's happening so it can get a little scary. Now I'm resisting sleep and walking around like a zombie, probably not good for healing. Nurse said it's probably a positional thing and doctor said I've got some swelling in there, but the same thing happens and in the same place whether I'm waking up in bed, where I must sleep only on my other side, or in a reclining lounge chair. The pain seems to build gradually, sometimes working it's way into my dream briefly before
posted by R2WeTwo to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Do you have any of the symptoms of reflux? When I get reflux morning is generally a really bad time for it and it can cause asthma/wheezing/coughing.

Do you have allergies? Sometimes beds/chairs harbor delightful little dust mites.

When I had bronchitis this Christmas it was always the worst in the morning and I figured it went along with the reflux.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:17 PM on July 21, 2011

Sounds to me like you could have a considerable amount of fluid leaking into the space between your chest wall and lung.

That can cause shortness of breath and a lot of pain.

If you've been traveling in areas with endemic TB, insist that TB be definitively ruled out.
posted by jamjam at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: you could have a considerable amount of fluid leaking into the space between your chest wall and lung.

That's what it feels like, jamjam. I've not been traveling but I know TB is in resurgence so I'll get a test ASAP. Do you think the leaking you describe could occur even without TB?
posted by R2WeTwo at 3:18 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: No to any reflux, and it's not at all like that. If you've ever had pneumonia you know what a deep ache it can be. I had that in a small spot before but this is that combined with what feels like someone wringing out my lower-left lung and as much of the Kidney as they can grab. I'l a little disconcerted to not see more accounts that have this in common. I'm truly afraid to fall asleep.
posted by R2WeTwo at 4:31 PM on July 21, 2011

I have had pneumonia quite a few times, unfortunately. I pretty much never take a full breath in my right lung because of some scarring (which is going away over time, thankfully). It is definitely painful and scary.

Have your doctors talked to you about a rescue inhaler (like Albuterol) or a nebulizer treatment for your shortness of breath in the morning?

If you had an inhaler it would make you much more comfortable ASAP and hopefully you would be able to get some sleep.

In terms of TB, chest x-rays can rule it out. You probably already had a chest x-ray, right? If not, you might ask about getting one.

I'm not being dismissive of the pain by asking about reflux--in my experience, uncontrolled reflux dumps acid into my lungs and makes any kind of lung problem 10x more miserable. If it's not a problem for you, great! One less thing to worry about.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:25 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks a lot, the rescue inhaler would bring great peace of mind. Yeah, it was the chest x-ray today that found the problem. The machine beeped and the tech went to check it before returning to ask lots of questions. Then my doctor's office called with an antibiotic I probably won't be able to take. I'll try to find another tomorrow, but should we do some kind of culture to see if it's bacterial or viral? I had a very low fever last night, perhaps he's going by that.
posted by R2WeTwo at 6:42 PM on July 21, 2011

They generally treat with an antibiotic without trying to figure out if it's viral or bacterial.

My doctor explained that they don't want to take the risk that a bacterial infection will follow the viral infection while the lungs & immune system are weakened so he always treats pneumonia with antibiotics.

Specifically, I've always been given amoxicillin plus breathing treatments of albuterol with a nebulizer and a rescue inhaler as needed (also albuterol). If you're allergic to amoxicillin I'm not sure what antibiotic they'll give you.

Good luck, and I hope you feel better!
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:09 PM on July 21, 2011

Pneumonia can be painful, and the pain can vary from time to time. So if you have pneumonia, it's not too surprising to have erratic pain. You also could have pleurisy, which is associated with pneumonia. When the pneumonia gets better, so should the pain.

Trust your doctor, pneumonia is serious and they don't mess around with treating it.
posted by medusa at 10:15 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: …pneumonia is serious and they don't mess around with treating it.

This is true, how they are behaving. Thank you for your kind reassurance everyone!
posted by R2WeTwo at 12:49 PM on July 22, 2011

Response by poster: If anyone is reading this later the mystery was solved by a second x-ray. I had a pleural effusion, fluid between the lung and an outer membrane and a small area of collapsed lung. If you have this pain I strongly suggest seeing a doctor and I hope that s/he will suggest an x-ray.
posted by R2WeTwo at 10:11 PM on October 18, 2011

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