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Mariah's avatar

I want to get my lung issues figured out once and for all. What should I do?

Asked by Mariah (25863points) November 30th, 2018

I have had these issues on a very irregular basis for a least a few years now.

About once every few months, I’ll suddenly get this abrupt sensation of movement in my chest on the right side. It almost feels like my stomach growling, except way too high up. Then I’ll have a coughing fit – a wet cough – and then I’m fine.

Another thing that happens occasionally is I will get a pain in my right side/back. When this pain is present I also get this feeling of “crackling” when taking a deep breath. I can feel it myself, and if someone were to put their hand on my back while inhaling, they could feel it too. Unfortunately I’ve never managed to reproduce it at a doctor’s office. This pain and “crackling” feeling usually lasts at least a few days, and one time it lasted for several months.

During the months-long episode, I saw my PCP about it several times. She ordered a chest x-ray, which looked normal. My O2 saturation was normal. I felt pretty sure it was in my lungs, but I also asked for and received a urine test to rule out a kidney stone, because the location of the pain was not dissimilar to what I felt when I had a kidney stone in the past. That was clean. Eventually it just went away.

But I have it again now. On Thanksgiving day I had the movement/coughing fit thing and I’ve been dealing with the pain/crackling thing ever since then.

I don’t know what to do. I could go back to my PCP, but I don’t know what she’ll do now that she didn’t do then. This feels like it could potentially be something serious and I just want to know what’s going on. Do I need to see a pulmonologist? A second generalist for another opinion?

I know nobody here is going to have the answers, but what would you do as a next step if you were in my shoes?

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14 Answers

MrGrimm888's avatar

If you have insurance, go to the specialist.

Jeruba's avatar

> Unfortunately I’ve never managed to reproduce it at a doctor’s office.

I’m bolder about some things now than I ever used to be. So if that were me today, and I hadn’t managed to see a doctor while the symptoms were present, I would do exactly this: when the symptoms are present, I would go to my doctor’s office, my PCP’s, without an appointment. I would tell the receptionist that I need to see the doctor, now, today (well, Monday), whenever they can fit me in, and that I will be glad to wait for as long as it takes.

And I would settle down with my Kindle and my water bottle and maybe some crackers and string cheese, and just wait to be seen.

I’ve had that crackling sensation too, when my breathing was impaired by bronchial asthma. It happened numerous times, although not recently. I never knew anyone else with it, but the fact that you chose the same word suggests that it must be a common description (just as ulcer patients typically use the word “gnawing”), and that a specialist should recognize it. If you don’t get something definitive from your PCP, I’d say ask for a referral to a pulmonologist.

notsoblond's avatar

I spent years trying to get answers for my histoplasmosis. I had repeat xrays and scans for two years. I still have breathing issues to this day with no answer.

Specialists these days have no clue. The answer is self care.

2davidc8's avatar

Have you asked for an MRI?
Then ask your PCP what are the possible things that might be going on.
Then go for a second opinion. I’m a big believer in second opinions, even third opinions, especially in cases where the symptoms are rather mysterious. Doctors are fallible, and no doctor knows everything.

flutherother's avatar

The crackling is a sign of some kind of fluid in the lungs. To find out the cause of this fluid build up you should get it analysed. I would bring a sputum sample to your doctor. He or she could probably tell a lot just by looking at it.

janbb's avatar

I would go to a pulmonologist if it will be covered. If you like your PCP, you can tell her that’s what you plan to do and ask for a referral.

anniereborn's avatar

Do you have an “urgent care” near you? You can go there at any time (other than overnight) and be seen while there. Maybe you could go there when you are having actual symptoms.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@anniereborn welll, she’s had symptoms for days, even months at a time and the doctors couldn’t find anything then.

I second @2davidc8. Request an MRI.
I also second a pulmonologist.

notsoblond's avatar

I’m sorry, my response wasn’t helpful. Good suggestions above. I hope you find an answer.

Dutchess_III's avatar

All the responses were helpful @notsoblond.

LostInParadise's avatar

Since the MRI did not show anything and there is doubt just where the problem is, maybe it would be best to see an internist.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think she had an MRI, just Xrays.

augustlan's avatar

I have that shifting/crackling/coughing all the time and it’s mainly related to excess mucous in my lungs (asthma and some copd-like stuff, but my lung function is fine). My PCP manages it; rescue inhaler as needed for most of the year, nebulizer and oral steroids during my yearly bronchitis bout. If I wanted to pursue it further, my next step would be a pulmonologist.

Mariah's avatar

Thanks everyone. This latest flare up already seems to be dying down so I don’t know if I can demonstrate my symptoms for a doc at this point. I’ll keep y’all updated if anything gets sorted out.

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