Chest pain is normally associated with heart attacks. Therefore, it can be a scary experience for anyone to suffer from chest pain. People become frightened whenever they have chest pain as they believe it happens because of the underlying coronary diseases. There is no doubt that coronary diseases are the primary cause of chest pain, but it is not the only cause of such a pain. However, because of the unmistakable link between the two, it is natural for anyone to feel frightened when he experiences chest pain.
Am I having a heart attack?
This is the first thought that strikes the mind of the individual who experiences chest pain. It is not the discomfort associated with chest pain but the fear of a heart attack that becomes a bigger worry for the individual. Of course, chest pain is not something that you can take lightly. But you would be relieved to know that in more than 25% cases of chest pain, the root cause is not a heart attack or a coronary heart disease. Underlying problems in muscles, ribs, shoulders, nerves, lungs, and even esophagus can cause chest pain. But nevertheless, you should not ignore chest pain under any circumstances and consult your physician as soon as possible.
What are the symptoms?
Chest pain can be experienced anywhere between the upper abdomen and the neck. The most common symptoms reported by people experiencing chest pain are as follows.
- Burning sensation around chest area
- Sharp pain in chest
- Feeling of being stabbed by a knife in the chest
- Crushing or squeezing sensation in the chest area
- Some people also report shortness of breath at the same time when they experience chest pain
- Pain and numbness in left arm or both arms
- Heavy fatigue
Great variations in the intensity of pain and the area affected by it are usually reported by patients. In some cases, patients report a moving pain that starts from chest and moves to another area of their body. The most common phrase used by people suffering from chest pain is heavy weight placed on their chest. Some people feel as if their chest has been tightened by a rope.
Common causes of chest pain
Besides heart attack, there are many possible causes of a chest pain. Here are these causes for those who become frightened with the mere mention of chest pain.
Chest pain can take place when the acid in the stomach flows backward and reaches the esophagus. Also called GERD, this acid reflux takes place in the tube that connects the stomach with the mouth. GERD is a digestive disease that can cause heartburn.
This is another cause of chest pain that has nothing to do with the condition of the heart. Burning sensation in chest area is accompanied by a bitter taste in the mouth caused by accumulation of acids in the stomach.
Peptic ulcer disease
This is a disease that can produce sharp pain in the upper abdomen area. Many people think they are having a chest pain because of a heart attack when the root cause is peptic ulcer disease.
Anxiety can also be a cause of chest pain. When a person experiences a panic attack because of intense fear or phobia, he can feel discomfort in his chest for some time.
It is a disease called Herpes Zoster where rash appears on the chest. There is excessive skin sensitivity around the rash and there are also sensations of burning and itching.
This is a condition that occurs when the lining of the stomach becomes weak. Digestive juices damage the lining to cause inflammation. Gastritis can sometimes cause a burning sensation in the chest area.
Asthma is a disease of the lungs. When a patient suffering from asthma is exposed to dust, pollen, or miter, their airways constrict, making it difficult for them to breathe.
In many cases of chest pain, the underlying condition is angina. It is a feeling rather than a disease. In this type of chest pain, muscles of the heart do not get enough supply of blood.
What should I do when chest pain strikes?
One should go to a doctor as soon as possible whenever he experiences chest pain. It is only through a proper medical checkup that the doctor can find the root cause of your chest pain. Evaluation through checkup and diagnostic tests is the right way of knowing the cause of your chest pain. It also makes sure that you get the right treatment for your condition. It is important to tell your doctor everything that you experienced during chest pain. It is based on symptoms told by you and the results of your diagnostic tests that the doctor decides upon the course of treatment.
In the case of chest pain, it is the characteristics or symptoms shown by the patient that hold great significance for the doctor. Try to be as precise with your words when explaining your symptoms. Some of the best words to describe the quality of chest pain are stabbing, sharp, crushing, burning, tearing, sharp, and moving. There are also symptoms associated with chest pain that are important for any doctor to evaluate your condition in the precise manner. Many patients of chest pain also experience conditions like shivering, sweating, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and breathing troubles.
Your doctor, after checking vital signs, proceeds to conduct a full physical checkup. He will use a stethoscope to listen to the sound of your heart. This is done to ascertain that there is no abnormal rhythm or pattern. He will also listen to sound made by your lungs. If there are any unusual sounds emanating from your lungs, he will focus upon issues of lungs.
Some important diagnostic tests performed for individual experiencing chest pain are ECG, pulmonary function test, CT scan, and upper endoscopy.