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DR FLO: Help for constant pain


Help for constant pain

Pain on the right side could signal a problem with the lungs.

Dr Flo, for the past one month, I have been having constant chest pains on the right side, extending to my arm. I visited the doctor and he took a blood test and the results came out as pneumonia and HCG, which could mean that I am pregnant. I am sure that I am not pregnant as I have been taking a pregnancy test in the morning and it is always negative. I am still feeling the pain especially when breathing heavily or laughing. I also feel tired and sweat a lot. Kindly advise me. Mercy
Dear Mercy,
Pain on the right side of the chest could be due to a problem with the lungs or the muscles and ribs. An infection in the lungs or the lining of the lungs (pleurisy) would explain the results of the blood test, the sweating and pain when breathing. This should resolve with proper antibiotics. Pain that comes only with particular movements, or with laughing and also with heavy breathing would more likely be muscular pain. This is treated with painkillers, massage or warm compresses. Sometimes, pain from the heart or from the food pipe (oesophagus) can cause pain on the right side of the chest.
It would be advisable to visit a doctor in a reputable health facility and be evaluated for problems with the lungs, the heart and the oesophagus. This may require another blood test, a chest x-ray, an electrocardiogram (ECG) for the heart and maybe a stool test. Treatment will depend on the findings.
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone produced by the placenta after implantation happens in the uterus during pregnancy. HCG levels go up for the first eight to 11 weeks, then go down and eventually level off for the rest of the pregnancy. The levels can be checked in blood, and monitoring of the levels can be done over time, especially if there is a complication with the pregnancy or if the first test did not give a definitive diagnosis. The presence of HCG can also be checked in urine, though this test does not give you HCG levels, just whether it is present or not. Sometimes HCG may be detected in blood before it is detected in urine.
HCG may also be produced by some growths and cancers in both men and women. So if you have a positive pregnancy test, and there is no pregnancy present by ultrasound, then tests need to be done to find whatever is producing the HCG.
Feeling tired and sweating a lot may be from the cause of the chest pain, a pregnancy or whatever is producing the HCG. Managing the cause should resolve these symptoms.


Dr Flo, sometime back I was involved in an accident and a piece of metal entered through my waist. I did not go to hospital. Instead, the person who attended to me poured brake fluid on the area. With time, I have started to feel pain all through. I need advice. Joel
Dear Joel,
When a piece of metal enters your body, it can cause trouble in two ways: one, it could potentially tear or damage your organs in the process of getting into the body and where it eventually lands. Two, by being a focus of infection, which, if untreated, can spread to the rest of the body.
The pain you are experiencing is most likely from the tissue damage and possible infection.
It is important to see a doctor (preferably a surgeon), urgently for examination, x-rays, ultrasound scan or CT scan, and possibly surgery to remove the piece of metal, clean out the wound and repair the damage.
Most brake fluids contain alcohol diethyl glycol, which, theoretically, can help to disinfect a wound. But it is also corrosive and irritates skin and, when it is absorbed by the body in large amounts, it is dangerous – it can cause a feeling of drunkenness, vomiting, chemical changes in the body (acidosis), kidney and liver injury, damage to the nervous system and even death.

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