sharp pain in stomach when breathing


If you also have stomach pain while breathing, be aware that there may be a variety of reasons for your complaint, from a relatively uncomplicated defect in the diaphragm muscle (hiatal hernia) to a severe emergency situation such as a pulmonary embolism. If you want to know more about Sharp pain in stomach when breathing, read more.


Diaphragm muscle anatomy

Causes of stomach pain when breathing

Symptoms of diaphragm damage

What is the position of the diaphragm in your breathing?

Symptoms of pleurisy

Underlying causes of pleurisy

In what cases, if there is stomach pain when breathing, we should immediately see a doctor or an equipped medical center?



Diaphragm muscle anatomy

The diaphragm is a powerful, large muscle that separates your chest and abdomen. The lungs, heart, and esophagus should be above the diaphragm, and the apex of the stomach, or, the fundus of the stomach should normally be below the diaphragm muscle.

What happens when you breathe?

When you exhale and inhale, your diaphragm muscles become tight and relaxed, respectively

You can see that the position of the stomach is such that it can be affected at different stages of respiration. Stomach pain when breathing can be related to the diaphragm and a change in the normal position of the stomach relative to the diaphragm.

In the following, we will talk more about the causes of stomach pain following breathing


Causes of stomach pain when breathing

  • gastroesophageal reflex disease:


People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience stomach pain when breathing.

Of course, the most common clinical sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease is heartburn. A person with GERD has an uncomfortable, burning, and sometimes pressing sensation in the middle and upper abdomen that sometimes feels like chest pain.

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain, upper abdominal pain, middle chest pain when breathing
  • Difficulty in swallowing; painful swallowing
  • Tooth decay

If you have the following conditions, the incidence of GERD and nausea will be higher than its clinical symptoms:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Diaphragm muscle defects that cause diaphragmatic hernias

Taking medications such as:

  • NSAIDs:
  • Iboprufen, naproxen
  • Diltiazem
  • Amilodipine

Hiatal hernia will also be a contributing factor to GERD and exacerbate its symptoms.


  • Hiatal hernia:

When there is a defect in the diaphragm muscle, that part of the diaphragm may become weak and the upper part of your stomach, created by the defect, may enter the chest from its normal position below the diaphragm and abdomen. They are predisposing factors for this complication such as:

  • Age over fifty years
  • Obesity, pregnancy
  • And smoking


  • Injuries:

Damage to the diaphragm can cause stomach pain when you breathe. Some items can damage your diaphragm, such as:

  • Surgeries
  • Chronic and severe cough
  • Penetrating chest injuries
  • Heavy blows to the chest

Diaphragm damage is sometimes difficult to diagnose because it occurs indirectly (for example, to the abdomen or chest), so it may take weeks or even months for your chest or abdomen to heal, and the symptoms of a diaphragm injury may begin to show.


Remember, damage to the diaphragm will not heal on its own, and almost all of them will require surgery. Damage to the diaphragm can be one of the causes of stomach pain when breathing.


Symptoms of diaphragm damage

You may also have one or more of the following symptoms if you have a diaphragm damage:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomit
  • Cough
  • Difficulty in breathing


What is the role of the diaphragm in your breathing?

Normal movements of a healthy diaphragm are necessary to support the dilation and contraction of your lungs when you inhale and exhale, so diaphragm injuries can cause stomach pain (your stomach is just below the diaphragm) when you breathe.


  • Pregnancy:

Maternal weight gain during pregnancy, fetal growth, and uterine dilatation increase intra-abdominal pressure. Increased intra-abdominal pressure increases maternal risk of hiatal hernia and GERD. On the other hand, hormonal changes in pregnancy, including an increase in the blood level of progesterone in a pregnant woman, cause the mother to take deeper breaths.

All of the above can cause stomach and upper abdominal pain when breathing, so, especially in the last three months of pregnancy, shortness of breath and pain and discomfort in the chest and abdomen will not be unexpected.


  • pleurisy:

Doctors call the pain caused by inflammation and irritation of the pleura that extends around the lungs and the area inside the chest pleurisy.

Pleurisy is a sharp, excruciating pain that develops or intensifies when you breathe.

In addition to the sharp chest pain when breathing that is characteristic of pleurisy, upper abdominal pain and stomach pain following breathing can also be clinical signs of pleurisy.


Symptoms of pleurisy

In addition to chest pain and stomach pain when breathing, other symptoms of pleurisy include:

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breathing
  • And sometimes unintentional weight loss


Sometimes the following symptoms will be present in pleurisy according to the underlying cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness


Underlying causes of pleurisy

These causes are many. Including:

  • Types of pneumonia
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Lung tumors that grow in the periphery of the lung (lung adenocarcinomas are in the periphery of the lung)
  • Metastases of other tumors that involve the lung.
  • Pleural autoimmune tumors (mesothelioma)
  • Lung abscesses
  • Tuberculosis
  • Occasionally burns and injuries to the esophagus
  • Inflammation of the pericardium, which doctors call pericarditis
  • And...


Pleurisy creates a clinical picture that requires a physician examination to find the underlying cause. Sometimes some heart attacks have a sign similar to pleurisy.


In what cases, if there is stomach pain when breathing, we should immediately see a doctor or an equipped medical center?

  • If you have recurrent vomiting
  • If you are having difficulty breathing
  • If there is any chest pain
  • Dizziness and or confusion
  • Fever and or chilli
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