Chest pain is often the most daunting of all the health-related issues one can encounter. This pain can come in various forms, such as a dull, throbbing ache or a sharp, stinging pain. It can also come with breathing difficulties, muscle strain, and other symptoms.
What makes chest pain so scary is that it can often be challenging to pin down the cause. Contrary to popular belief, chest pain isn’t just caused by heart issues. While this can be reassuring for some, it can also make things even harder to process for others.
Chest pain is easily one of the most common reasons people end up in the ER. And based on the intensity, location, and frequency, it can indicate a range of different ailments. If you’re willing to unearth more about the various causes of chest pain, keep reading below.
Among all the causes of chest pain, mesothelioma is often the most easily overlooked, especially in the initial stages. A rare form of fatal cancer, it’s caused solely by asbestos exposure. This cancer can take up to 30-40 years to manifest and has various forms which can be challenging to handle if not spotted early.
Pleural mesothelioma happens to be the most common form of this cancer. It directly affects the pleural lining of the lungs. Knowing the symptoms of this rare and often fatal form of cancer can allow one to have the greatest chances at recovery. Experiencing chronic cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath may indicate pleural mesothelioma, and if you experience such symptoms, approach a doctor. Furthermore, suppose you’ve worked in the construction industry, as a veteran, or as a mechanic, or lived near natural asbestos deposits. In that case, you can have a greater chance of asbestos exposure. A doctor can help you connect all the dots and use tests to identify whether your chest pain can be a symptom of mesothelioma.
Heartburn is one of the leading causes of chest pain, and it often causes a great deal of panic in patients. Most of us usually end up attributing chest pain to heart-related issues. Although heartburn is similar to the chest pain one experiences when going through heart-related problems, it’s still different.
If the chest pain is accompanied by a sour taste, difficulty swallowing, and persistent pain, you may be suffering from heartburn. The symptoms can often worsen after eating, lying down, or bending over. Occasional heartburn is common and doesn’t merit a trip to the doctor. Instead, lifestyle changes such as having lighter, less spicy meals, exercise, and over-the-counter medications can help you manage this condition. However, suppose you have consistent heartburn, trouble eating, persistent nausea and vomiting, and reduced weight. In that case, you may need to head to a doctor.
A collapsed lung is another reason you may experience persistent chest pain. Although this isn’t that common, numerous causes can collapse a lung. If you’ve experienced chest cavity trauma, such as injury with a blunt object, you may have a collapsed lung. Drug abuse, cigarette smoking, and certain lung diseases can also serve as a cause.
A collapsed lung usually occurs when air enters the chest cavity outside the lung and creates pressure. No matter what the causes, a collapsed lung requires instant medical care, or it can lead to severe repercussions. Symptoms of a collapsed lung can include skin turning blue, fast breathing, rapid heart rate, fatigue, cough, fever and sharp pain, especially during breathing. If you experience these symptoms, it’s viable to rush to the ER immediately. Treatment can include surgery if the case is severe. Or oxygen therapy and needle aspiration if the issue is minor.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease is usually the first thing we think of when we experience chest pain. Caused by a blockage of your heart vessels, coronary heart disease is most often accompanied by angina pain. Angina pain can be characterized by heaviness, tightness, and a feeling of immense pressure on your chest. Angina pain can often be accompanied by fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and depending on the severity, it can be debilitating.
Coronary heart disease is a chronic illness and requires consistent management to help alleviate the symptoms and protect your heart. Although angina pain can sometimes feel like a heart attack, it doesn’t directly damage the heart. However, you should consider it a warning from your body that you are at an increased risk of a heart attack. Making drastic lifestyle changes, such as eating clean, fat-free meals, exercising, losing weight, and limiting alcohol intake, can be vital in preventing heart disease from exacerbating.
Bruised or broken ribs are yet another common reason you may be suffering from chest pain without any heart or respiratory illness history. If you play extreme sports, box, have been in a situation where you suffered trauma to your chest, you may have bruised ribs. Ribcage pain can arise directly after an injury and feel like a dull ache or a sharp stinging pain. It can often feel worse with time or can wax and wane.
Apart from rib fractures, muscle spasms, and swollen rib cartilage, unexplained rib pain can be caused by osteoporosis and inflammation in the pleural lining. If you’ve been experiencing persistent, unexplainable pain around your ribcage and navel, heading to a doctor can be the best option. X-rays and other tests can identify the cause of the pain. As a result, your doctor can advise you on how to handle the situation accordingly.
Experiencing pain in your chest can be incredibly daunting, and you might be questioning yourself on whether you need to head to a doctor or wait it out. You know your symptoms best, and if you feel significantly concerned, consulting a doctor can be the best option.
These are just a handful of reasons explaining why one can experience chest pain. So be mindful and watch for these signs. If you witness any of these, heading to a doctor can allow you to have a better explanation about your condition.