Chest tightness after exercise - Lung Conditions C...

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Chest tightness after exercise

natswright profile image

Background, i'm around 5 months into recovery from serious covid pneumonia (was hospitalised for a month, and only started exercising 3 months ago)

I can walk for about 20-25 minutes 1 to 2 times a week, but I do feel very tired afterwards. I can manage very small amounts of jogging (3 minutes) and have been able to manage 5 minutes cycling.

More recently, when I get back from a 10 minute walk, my chest can feel a bit tight and breathing a little harder. My lungs feel tired. I recover in about 60 minutes and my SATS usually hover between 96-100, so I do not feel breathless, but do feel like its more effort to breath.

Is this normal ? I do have some lung scaring, but doctor recons that I should manage with my reduced lung capacity.

I'm not worried as I do recovery, but over the course of my recovery, so may things change. Thankfully, on monday I get to speak to a respiratory physio as I've joined a covid exercise study!

30 Replies

Well done you. I can remember your first posts and it does seem that you are now in a much better place. Congratulations!I am glad you have some respiratory physio support.

Be gentle with yourself and just take a bit at a time.

Kate xxx

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Katinka46

Thanks! Need a physio as i've also hurt my trapezius muscle. I'm back at work and using a computer has caused neck/shoulder pain. Sometimes its really painful, other times, its manageable!

Jaybird19 profile image
Jaybird19 in reply to natswright

Well done but don't overdo it.

You seem to be doing really well and it will be great to speak to the respiratory physio on Monday. Take care and stay well. Xxx

♥️ Don't give up! 👍

I wont, still managed a 10 minute walk today!

Bless you 👍❤️

A nasty, non-covid viral respiratory illness can take 3 months to fully recover from even if you don’t have a lung condition and it doesn’t put you in hospital. Recovery from a severe non-covid pneumonia can take 6 months. The reality is we don’t know exactly how long covid pneumonia takes to recover from because we’re still learning as we go, but it’s reasonable to assume it’s going to take quite some time, particularly if you were ill enough to be hospitalised for a month. Long covid is also associated with exercise intolerance and fatigue, so that could also be a factor in your recovery.

My understanding is that the body has quite a good ability to maintain oxygen levels and compensate for loss of lung function, up to a point. There are plenty of people on here with relatively low fev1 (so lung damage and scarring of various descriptions) but that still have good oxygen sats. My daughter blows around 70% when well, with sats of 98%+, but even when really unwell with an fev1 in the 40s a couple of years ago, her sats were still mostly 94% or above when awake. The occasions where she’s needed oxygen over the years have been more to do with airway narrowing rather than functional breathlessness. Many people with lung conditions are advised to exercise as much as possible, as this goes a long way to enabling the body to overcome the effects of lung damage on your ability to do things day to day.

Worth running all this by the physio when you see them, but if you’re making progress, I’d say that’s a good sign.

Hi natswright. You are doing really well in your recovery from covid pneumonia. I remember your earlier posts about your struggles. A chat with the respiratory physio sounds good and hopefully you will get answers to your questions. It maybe you have become slightly asthmatic hence the tightness. Let us know how you get on. X

I will. Just back from a 15 minute walk, struggled, and feeling pretty tired, more so than normal, but this sore neck does not help matters! I was walking for almost 30 minutes at the start of the week, but have struggled since, having to do less exercise.

My sats are a little lower than normal, but there is less tightness. I just wish this pain in my neck would go.

Have you tried massaging your neck with your fingers to help relieve the pain or applied heat. Good luck with the exercise and physio. Don’t try to overdo it x

Yeah, helps sometimes. I have some neck stretches to do, those help as do heat packs!

Well done for keeping going not easy when you are in pain and getting a tight chest. I think its a case of building up slowly you only have so much enrgy in your body and if you have got up washed dressed gone to work lunch work home tea you have alrwddy taken alot of that enegy away. So you have to balance out your energy to use how you need/want. And hopefully by eating well exerseing and resting as needed your energy levels will rise. 6 months recovery is nothing after what your body has been through. But please talk to your hc profesionals as they know much better than us about you and your recovery. Keep well

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to corriena

Thanks, i'm beginning to understand that 6 months is maybe just the beginning! I'll get there!

corriena profile image
corriena in reply to natswright

Just keep doing what you are doing. Take care of yourself. And stay in touch with your friends on hear

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to corriena

Yeah. What was really strange, I just played some video games with a friend, and my sats shot up to 100, and lungs felt great. Maybe I do have a little exercise anxiety floating around! Chilling watching TV before bed now....

Hope the neck pain soon goes away. My physio tells me the muscles in the back of my neck have tightened up as a knock on effect of tendonitis. Our bodies are complicated old things. otherwise you are doing brilliantly. Covid pneumonia isn't going to stop you in your tracks.

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Alberta56

Thanks! I'm pushing my exercise as best I can, but last week was tough, with a lot of muscle pain. In a fair bit of pain tonight too. Seems the more active you become, the more everything hurts!

😂Could you be overdoing it? Silly question. The only way I know I've overdone it is afterwards.

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Alberta56

Yeah, its tough to know when you have pushed to far!

Alberta56 profile image
Alberta56 in reply to natswright

Sooner or later it won't be too far. I live in hope.😊😊

I'm not sure if its normal, but I can empathize with the feeling. I've been struggling with that pretty terribly since COVID in late October and notice it more in the evenings or if I try to exercise. Interestingly, it seems like my O2 sats are also typically in the 96-98 range. So it's not dangerous necessarily, but it can make life difficult. Mine typically is accompanied by some type of burning pain or feeling that my chest is heavy or full.

In the research I've done, it seems like exercise can inflame the lungs somewhat. That's not to say don't do it - obviously it has benefits. But I think it would make sense if you did something inflammatory that breathing would get a little more difficult afterwards. If you figure anything out on this front, please let me know! (I'm about 5 months in)

Very similar to me, my chest and lungs can feel a bit heavy, slight burning. Oddly in the evening, mine gradually improve. I do get a lot of trapped wind when eating and when that escapes, I can breathe more easily again.

I also have an odd little pneumonia cough that comes and goes! Its extremely mild, and I can go for days or even weeks without it.

Yea, it is pretty disconcerting. Mine gets worse in the evenings typically, though spasms can happen at any time during the day and have been since the acute infection. I don’t know what the trapped wind necessarily feels like - is that the difficulty breathing out part? If so, that got really bad for me about a month out. I can’t tell if they have improved significantly or not - it is so hard to know. But I also ended up on an inhaler for some asthma like symptoms that haven’t really been diagnosed yet either. Wow, I can’t tell you how good it feels to meet someone with a similar set of sensations!

We're not alone. There are others and I've spoken to a respiratory physio who confirmed these as common symptoms! The trapped wind is caused after eating and puts pressure on my diafram. If I "burp" the wind out, I feel loads better! I often use gaviscon to help control this. If you feel this way, it is also often anxiety. Try breathing exercises, Breath in for about 4 secs, hold for around 5, then slowly breath out for 7 secs. try to belly breath too, so you see your belly rise up. Breathing like this sends strong signals to your brain that you are safe, and in no danger.

You also may find that you get "jelly legs" a lot, especially after walking. This is thought to be because covid damages the muscles so they are less efficient at taking up oxygen and of course if you were in hospital on bed rest for some time, you have wastage.

I lost 10kg in weight while in hospital! I've since put 3kg back on, and hope this is muscle mass!

When you say chest tightness, does it feel like there is a belt around your chest? Or something like that? It is kind of an odd feeling to describe, but it feels like my chest is just full and like everything is stiff in there or something. It happened to me last night for no apparent reason and so I had to sleep it off. None of my j hackers made it go away, but my O2 sats we’re still 96-97. So I wasn’t too worried. It’s just the oddest recovery.

I never went into the hospital but, looking back, I probably should have. People were telling by me that my O2 was ok and because my breathing problems were mostly in the evenings, it didn’t get caught. Even my mouth, throat, and nose feel slightly smaller, like the tissues swelled post-infection.

Yeah, chest is kinda like you described, and just feels uncomfortable. Mine has definitely improved over time. I do have sinus issues, and my upper airway gets irritated sometimes, causing a slight cough from a nasal drip I have.

Covid is a bizarre recovery, but I had pneumonia too, which is a tough recovery in itself.

Oh, that's good that it has improved over time! I cannot tell if that is the case with me, and I think it might have actually gotten worse for a month post-COVID until I got on some Asthma medication. But it's so hard to know and I just hope there's no progressive condition. It's so hard not to lament the past and just focus on recovery.

Definitely get checked out by your GP, you could have an undiagnosed issue, or it could just be part of the healing process.

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