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Lung infection?
Jan 17, 2000

Dear Dr. Feinberg, I was diagnosed with HIV six weeks ago (VL=1000, CD4=550) but I believe now that I have been infected for about five-six years based on what I've learnt about the virus. The reason for my getting tested was the cold symptoms that won't go away accompanied by joint pains and fevers. In the beginning of December I started feeling some discomfort in my chest/lungs. I did get a nasty flu again which was worsened by cough and constantly increasing chest pains (sometimes dull, sometimes stabbing but always migrating). I was prescribed a combination of antibiotics (Klaricid+Amoxycillin) which worked. The X-ray test showed no abnormalities in my lungs. The reason for my question is that I still have this pain in my chest and back; it is not as bad as it used to be but it is still there and I am worried. My doctor believes that I must have pulled a muscle while coughing but surely a stretched muscle would have healed no problem by now. What tests should I do to find out what is causing this pain? Does it look like anything really serious? What measures could I possibly take to make the pain go away? Many thanks in advance,

Response from Dr. Feinberg

There is no way for me to know with certainty what your pain is caused by, but pulled muscles and muscle spasms can in fact be very painful and take weeks to resolve. You can try anti-inflammatory medicines (by prescription or take 2-3 over-the-counter strength ibuprofen tablets at a time), and use heat (hot bath with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts) alternating with cold (icepack for 10-15 minutes) if it really is a muscle problem. Also, there are muscle relaxants you can get by prescription; they don't seem to work for everyone. There is no one specific test for your chest and back pain that will give you an answer. If symptomatic treatment like what I've described doesn't help over the next couple of weeks, then see your doctor again.

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