Chest pain could be very painful or mildly discomforting. Although it could sometimes be harmless, one should not ignore it. Many people always think every chest pain is a heart attack, however, there are several causes. When you have chest pain, the best thing is to see a doctor for evaluation. However, if you’re curious, this article discusses 5 causes that you may experience.
It may be felt anywhere on the chest from the neck to the upper part of the abdomen. The causes include:
1. Heart disease
Because the heart is located in the chest, many diseases which affect the heart can be felt as a pain in the chest. Heart causes of chest pain could be life-threatening and 911 should be called immediately if you have severe chest pain. Some of these diseases include
- Heart attack: This is medically known as myocardial infarction and it means that blood isn’t getting to your heart muscles anymore. It is usually a result of a blood clot blocking the artery that supplies blood to your heart. The pain is usually intense and may spread to your neck, arms, or shoulders. It is also accompanied by sweating, nausea, and shortness of breath.
- Angina: This is a less severe form of heart attack, known as coronary artery disease. Here, there is a reduction in blood flow to the heart muscles but some blood is still able to get there. It is usually caused by exercise or excitement and relieved by rest.
- Myocarditis: This means that the heart muscle is inflamed and may also cause fever, tiredness, and trouble breathing. Myocarditis symptoms may sometimes resemble those of a heart attack, although it is not due to loss of blood supply.
- Other heart diseases that may cause chest pain include pericarditis, mitral valve prolapse, and coronary artery dissection.
2. Lung disease
The lungs are two organs located on the two sides of the heart. They are used for breathing. When they are diseased, they could also cause chest pain. Some of these diseases are
- Pleuritis: This is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and it causes pain which is worse in breathing in.
- Pneumonia: This is an infection of the lungs
- Pulmonary embolism: This is when the blood supply to the lungs is compromised. Think of it like a heart attack but this time it’s the lungs, not the heart.
- Pneumothorax: This occurs when air enters the lining of the lungs either from the lungs or from outside of the body.
- Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
3. Gastrointestinal Diseases
Diseases of the gastrointestinal system usually cause abdominal pain but sometimes can cause chest pain. Some of them include
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: This occurs when the acid in the stomach reflexes and enters the esophagus. This usually occurs at night and may result in an acidic taste of brash on waking up in the morning.
- Esophageal spasm: This occurs when the esophagus contracts forcefully
- Esophageal rupture: Sometimes, the esophagus can rupture especially during forceful vomiting or fetching. This could lead to severe chest pain with air in the subcutaneous tissue.
- Gastric Ulcer: Although the pain of gastric ulcer is usually in the abdomen, it could sometimes radiate to the chest and cause chest pain.
4. Bone and Muscle disorders
Sometimes the cause of chest pain isn’t even due to organ dysfunction. It could be due to more superficial reasons like bone and muscle disorders. Some of them include
- Rib pain: Sometimes the pain may be due to a fracture to the rib or inflammation of the rib bone or cartilage.
- Muscle problems: Sometimes chest pain may be due to a sprain to the muscles of the chest.
Other causes of chest pain include Shingles (also called Herpes Zoster), anxiety and panic attacks.