Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Katy, Texas
Bikes: Mongoose MTB and a brand new 2009 Trek 7.5 FX WSD
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I have had multiple, spontaneous pneumothorax. I have had one while riding my bike (made the ride back pretty tough) but I have also ridden with a partial. I know the pain and am quite familiar with the discomfort you are describing.
What also happens quite frequently, especially in hot, humid weather, and also in cold, dry weather, is you can get pleurisy. It is actually an inflammation of the lining that covers the lobes of the lungs. It can be bad enough that it FEELS the same as when you have a pneumo and it can be very misleading. You can also get the referred pain/discomfort up into the shoulder with this pleurisy.
Sometimes a cool mist humidifier can solve it for me. Sometimes just holding a washcloth soaked in hot water with a little vick's smeared on it, over my nose and inhaling deeply can cure it. But, if none of my "tricks" cures it and the pain increases exponentially upon inhalation - I know it's probably time to go get a chest x-ray.
It's ironic, but if you have suffered from a spontaneous pneumo before, you can also be a victim of pneumo paranoia. When you get that sharp pain, be it just pleurisy or heartburn from last night's mexican dinner, the anxiety that comes with wondering, "is this another pneumo" can actually increase your symptoms of pleurisy/pneumo because your breathing pattern changes when you are anxious!
So relax, take some good even breaths, try not to inhale deeply in cold dry weather or hot humid weather for just a little while. Don't raise your arms over your head, and don't lift anything that causes you to exert yourself. And DON'T try to ride a century until you have determined that it is just pleurisy, anxiety or you really DO have a collapse or partial collapse!
Froudone, who is currently waiting on results from her chest x-rays to determine if she is going to make the ride this weekend.........or stay in out of the wet, humid, rainy, cool air! :-(