Chest Pain Causes: Gastrointestinal Problems
Gastrointestinal problems can also cause chest pain and include:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Also known as acid reflux, GERD occurs when stomach contents move back into the throat. This may cause a sour taste in the mouth and a burning sensation in the chest or throat, known as heartburn. Factors that may trigger acid reflux include obesity, smoking, pregnancy, and spicy or fatty foods. Heart pain and heartburn from acid reflux feel similar partly because the heart and oesophagus are located close to each other and share a nerve network.
Oesophagal contraction disorders. Uncoordinated muscle contractions (spasms) and high-pressure contractions (nutcracker oesophagus) are problems in the oesophagus that can cause chest pain.
Oesophagal hypersensitivity. This occurs when the oesophagus becomes very painful at the smallest change in pressure or exposure to acid. The cause of this sensitivity is unknown.
Oesophagal rupture or perforation. Sudden, severe chest pain following vomiting or a procedure involving the oesophagus may be the sign of a rupture in the oesophagus.
Peptic ulcers. A vague recurring discomfort may be the result of these painful sores in the lining of the stomach or first part of the small intestine. More common in people who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, or take pain-killers such as aspirin or NSAID’s, the pain often gets better when you eat or take antacids.
Hiatal hernia. This common problem occurs when the top of the stomach pushes into the lower chest after eating. This often causes reflux symptoms, including heartburn or chest pain. The pain tends to get worse when you lie down.
Pancreatitis. You may have pancreatitis if you have pain in the lower chest that is often worse when you lie flat and better when you lean forward.
Gallbladder problems. After eating a fatty meal, do you have a sensation of fullness or pain in your right lower chest area or the right upper side of your abdomen? If so, your chest pain may due to a gallbladder problem.
Chest Pain Causes: Bone, Muscle, or Nerve Problems
Sometimes chest pain may result from overuse or an injury to the chest area from a fall or accident. Viruses can also cause pain in the chest area. Other causes of chest pain include:
Rib problems. Pain from a rib fracture may worsen with deep breathing or coughing. It is often confined to one area and may feel sore when you press on it. The area where the ribs join the breastbone may also become inflamed.
Muscle strain. Even really hard coughing can injure or inflame the muscles and tendons between the ribs and cause chest pain. The pain tends to persist and it worsens with activity.
Shingles. Caused by the varicella-zoster virus, shingles may prompt a sharp, band-like pain before a telltale rash appears several days later.
Other Potential Causes of Chest Pain
Another potential cause of chest pain is anxiety and panic attacks. Some associated symptoms can include dizziness, sensation of shortness of breath, palpitations, tingling sensations, and trembling.
When to See the Doctor for Chest Pain
When in doubt, call your doctor about any chest pain you have, especially if it comes on suddenly or is not relieved by anti-inflammatory medications or other self-care steps, such as changing your diet.
Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- Fever, chills or coughing up yellow-green mucus
- Problems swallowing
- Severe chest pain that does not go away