Chest pain

Symptoms of Chest Pain

  • Pressure, tightness, or fullness in the chest
  • Sharp or stabbing pain
  • Burning sensation
  • Dull ache
  • Pain that radiates to the jaw, neck, or arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest
  • Pain that persists and is not affected by body position or breathing

Risks Associated with Chest Pain

Heart-related causes:

  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • Angina (reduced blood flow to the heart)
  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart)
  • Aortic dissection (tear in the aorta, the major artery coming out of the heart)

Digestive causes:

  • Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Oesophageal spasms or disorders
  • Gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis)
  • Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)

Musculoskeletal causes:

  • Costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage connecting a rib to the breastbone)
  • Muscle strain
  • Rib injury or fracture

Pulmonary causes:

  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs)
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
  • Pleuritis (inflammation of the pleura, the membrane surrounding the lungs)
  • Pneumonia or other lung infections

Other causes:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Shingles (herpes zoster infection affecting nerves under the ribs)

When to Seek Medical Help

Immediate attention if chest pain is:

  • Severe or sudden
  • Accompanied by symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness, or fainting
  • Associated with symptoms suggesting a heart attack, like pain radiating to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, or jaw, or pain accompanied by vomiting, sweating, or extreme weakness

Consult a healthcare provider if chest pain is:

  • Recurrent
  • New or changing in nature
  • Not clearly linked to a specific trigger or relieved by rest

Chest pain should always be taken seriously as it can be indicative of life-threatening conditions, requiring prompt diagnosis and treatment to minimize risks of severe complications.

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