What causes chest pain? What does it mean to have pain on the right, left or middle of the chest? Is it a serious situation? Do you need to go to the doctor? What to do? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.

What does it mean to have chest pain?

Experiencing chest pain can be a frightening experience that causes a lot of unwanted anxiety. Chest pain scares everyone and therefore it is very useful to be informed about it.

The good news is that; Most causes of chest pain are not serious enough to scare us. It is often a cause of other problems such as chest pains, unresolved anxiety , panic attack disorder, heartburn , upset stomach, and inflammatory bowel disease .

However, if you haven’t eaten recently and experienced some kind of major physical or mental trauma, sudden chest pain that comes on suddenly (especially if the pain is sharp, repetitive, and occurs while breathing) then please don’t take any chances and see your doctor.

The following list will explain the causes of chest pain, what is normal and what is not.

What causes chest pain on the right or left side?

The term chest pain can describe pain anywhere in the chest. But a common question about pain in the chest is whether there is a difference between pain on the left side of the chest and on the right side of the chest. This is because, as most people know, only chest pain on the left side is associated with a heart attack, depending on where the heart is located.

However, chest pain on the left does not always indicate a heart problem, and chest pain on the right should not be ignored either. A heart attack can cause pain all over the body, from the right side of the chest to the left side of the chest and other parts of the body, such as the jaw.

Pain on the right side of the chest rarely indicates a heart problem, but this does not mean that right side chest pain is not serious. There are several serious and non-serious causes behind chest pains on the right side, such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • A bruised or broken rib
  • A torn muscle in the chest
  • viral infection
  • Gallbladder, liver, pancreas, spleen and lung problems
  • Pleuritic pain or inflammation around the lung
  • a blood clot in the lung
  • Digestive issues such as inflammatory bowel disease and heartburn

It is important to know where the pain in your chest is and explain it to your doctor. Because the location of your pain, such as upper chest pain , left chest pain , or right chest pain , can greatly help your doctor determine the cause, and the exact cause behind your chest pain can be treated before it becomes a serious health problem.

Low-risk causes of chest pain

1- Chest pain due to anxiety

Whether you’ve dealt with anxiety most of your life or just had occasional panic attacks, periods of great stress and anxiety can often be accompanied by chest pain.

Anxiety often causes chest pain and discomfort, as well as a general quickening of the heartbeat. In fact, about 25% of patients who report to their doctors that they have chest pain are diagnosed with panic disorder. Panic disorder can cause pain in the middle of the chest area.

Of course, this does not mean that chest discomfort should be ignored, as patients with panic disorder and stress-induced chest pain have higher rates of cardiovascular disease. In fact, if you’ve had a panic attack or anxiety disorder for years, your heart may have suffered some trauma or cumulative damage during that time.

However, you should always go to the hospital for chest pain (especially for people with anxiety disorders) and make sure you don’t have a serious heart condition.

Often, for patients with severe panic disorders, doctors have medications available for the patient that can help with symptoms such as chest pain. There are quite effective methods to completely prevent anxiety and panic disorders and to make the accompanying chest pain appear much less.

Related article: What herbs are good for anxiety?

2- Chest pain due to costochondritis

Sometimes chest pain is caused by inflammation around the ribs. When the cartilage surrounding your ribs becomes inflamed, this can cause pain in the chest. This condition is called costochondritis and is a fairly normal occurrence of chest pain for many people. In costochondritis, the pain will feel like there is pressure in the middle of the chest.

costochondritis; It can occur due to accidents, falls, excessive coughing, vomiting, strenuous exercise and pulling of muscles in the chest during sports activities, and some types of arthritis and bursitis.

Sometimes this is caused by a car accident. Often in a car accident, the inflated airbag hitting and injuring the sternum can cause costochondritis.

Read More  Important Causes of Chest Pain While Breathing

The main symptom of costochondritis is a sharp pain in the chest wall and ribs that comes and goes. Chest pain may be felt more severe with deep breathing, coughing or sneezing. Most cases of tenderness near the breastbone are diagnosed as costochondritis.

Treatment typically includes hot or cold compresses, anti-inflammatory medications, and bed rest. Although this condition usually goes away on its own, some severe cases of costochondritis may take several months to heal completely.

3- Chest pain due to muscle contraction

When a muscle is pulled, overstressed, or torn, it is often described as a muscle pull. However, muscle tension in the chest area causes chest pain that some people may confuse with a heart attack.

Muscle pull can be caused by inappropriate movements during exercise, strenuous weight lifting, cardiovascular exercise, suddenly moving in the wrong direction, or sleeping in the wrong position all night. Car accidents, falls, and other mishaps can also cause the chest muscles to pull.

Oftentimes, in people who have been in a car accident, their chest muscles are pulled by the pressure of the seat belt or airbag as their bodies are pushed forward by the severity of the accident. This is usually not felt until a day or two after the accident. It’s a common reason people get checked out later, even if they don’t think they need to go to the hospital right away.

Chest muscles can also be pulled, especially when athletes are boxing, swinging, playing football or javelin.

Depending on the exact location of the pulled muscle in the body, such as the back or abdomen, chest pain sometimes occurs in the upper body, often with stiffness and bruising.

If you believe that an event or activity may cause chest muscle tension or pull on the chest muscle and you are experiencing chest pain because of it, apply ice and rest as much as possible to minimize swelling and reduce the pain of the tightness. If the discomfort has not improved within two days, it is a good idea to see your doctor.

4- Chest pain due to rib bruise

Like a muscle pull, a rib bruise can cause pain in the chest. A bruised rib is usually caused by a direct blow to the chest. Although the pain can be quite severe, the condition usually gets better on its own. Car accidents, falls, or sports injuries are common causes of rib bruises.

Symptoms of a rib bruise include pain and tenderness near the injured rib, as well as chest pain that increases when you breathe deeply, move, or cough. Chest pain after sneezing or coughing can increase in intensity as a person coughs or sneezes.

Usually, rib bruise pain can be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice compresses, but patience is the best treatment as rib cage pain typically takes a month to heal.

If it does not improve despite this, it is important to see a doctor, especially if you have had a trauma that caused pain or shortness of breath. Because sometimes this can indicate an injury to the lung.

5- Chest pain due to bronchitis

Viruses that trigger the common cold can cause acute bronchitis. But it can also be caused by exposure to harsh pollutants such as fumes from a bacterial infection or harsh toxins such as smoke and industrial cleaning products.

Symptoms of bronchitis include a dry and breathless cough, tiredness, and yellowish, whitish or greenish sputum. Bronchitis can also cause shortness of breath, fever, and chest tightness. This chest tightness combined with a tiring cough can cause chest pain.

Chest pain associated with bronchitis is usually mild, but coughing often worsens the pain. Bronchitis may resolve on its own after a few days of rest. But if you notice that your cough and other symptoms are getting worse rather than better over time, you should see a doctor.

If your infection is viral, your doctor can provide you with supportive care to help you feel better as your body fights the infection. If it’s bacterial, antibiotics can help relieve the symptoms of the infection quickly. If your bronchitis persists, you may have chronic bronchitis that requires serious medical attention and monitoring.

6- Asthma-related chest pain

Asthma is a very common health problem. For most individuals, asthma symptoms are mild and manageable. But sometimes, an exacerbation of asthma can be serious, especially when exacerbated by allergies.

Asthma attacks can cause wheezing , shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. Those with asthma can often experience chest pain when breathing . If you have been diagnosed with asthma, and especially if you have chest pain, this may be a sign of a mild asthma attack. Asthma has no cure, so it’s important to avoid triggers such as allergens, pollutants, and excessive physical activity.

Anyone with asthma should always carry an over-the-counter inhaler with them. If you are having an asthma attack and you notice that your chest pain is accompanied by severe difficulty breathing, you should seek immediate medical attention and use your inhalers as directed by your doctor.

7- Chest pain due to gastric hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach is pushed through an opening in the diaphragm, a muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest. The exact cause of gastric hernias is unknown, but weak supporting tissue is suspected to be the typical cause.

The risk of developing a gastric hernia increases with age and weight gain. Symptoms are mild for most. But things like chest pain, heartburn, esophageal problems, or difficulty swallowing can also occur after eating.

Various tests are necessary to diagnose the condition. Treatment may include surgery, medications to control stomach acid, a change in diet, and eating smaller meals. All of these can help relieve the pain and discomfort of a hernia. If these measures fail, surgery can usually correct this.

8- Chest pain due to shingles

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have had chickenpox in the past, you are at risk of developing shingles.

Early symptoms of shingles include burning, tingling, and numbness in the nerve distribution when the chickenpox virus is dormant. If the rash involves one of the chest’s dermatomes, this will usually present with pain, a burning or tingling sensation.

These symptoms are usually followed by a painful, blistering rash. This is a red rash with blisters on it that then bursts, crusts and heals.

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If you’re experiencing chest pain that is nerve-related or internal rather than muscular, if you’ve had chickenpox in the past and haven’t had the shingles vaccine, you should see a doctor to consider your options. If not diagnosed early, shingles can be very painful. Early diagnosis and treatment is very important for the treatment of shingles.

9- Chest pain due to heartburn

Heartburn or acid reflux can be described as a burning sensation in the chest and behind the breastbone. This sensation can move up and down the throat and is often accompanied by a taste of food or an acidic taste in the throat.

This usually happens after eating. It especially happens if you eat large meals, drink alcohol with them, smoke, and lie down too soon after a meal. Many people confuse this feeling with a heart attack because it can be uncomfortable and cause pain in the middle of the chest.

Acid reflux is a common type of chest pain during pregnancy. Therefore, if you are pregnant and have a feeling of pain in your heart, it is useful to talk to your doctor and clarify your situation.

Moderate risk causes of chest pain

1- Chest pain due to peptic ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a raw area or open sore in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine. These ulcers can occur when the stomach or intestines are unable to protect themselves against strong stomach acids.

The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is chest or abdominal pain , mild nausea, and heartburn. Weight loss, dark or tarry stools may also be symptoms.

A gastroenterologist may do a test called an upper endoscopy to see if you have a peptic ulcer. This is a common procedure and is usually done with light sedation to keep you comfortable.

People diagnosed with peptic ulcers and gastric ulcers are typically advised to avoid drinking alcohol, which greatly irritates the lining of the stomach, to quit smoking (because nicotine is a toxin that irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines), and to avoid the use of various medications known to aggravate the ulcer.

2- Chest pain due to pneumonia

Pneumonia, or pneumonia, is classified as a respiratory condition. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can cause an infection of the lung that can progress to pneumonia.

The main symptom of pneumonia is cough, often accompanied by thick and yellow sputum. Fever typically accompanies pneumonia with chills and shortness of breath. Headaches may be accompanied by a general loss of appetite. Sharp chest pain that worsens with coughing or deep breathing may also be present.

If pneumonia is caught early enough, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

If you are elderly, have a weakened immune system, or have any serious medical condition, you should seek medical attention immediately. Because pneumonia is often fatal in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, it can quickly become a matter of life and death.

3- Chest pain due to myocarditis

If the heart muscle becomes infected and inflamed, it may be due to myocarditis. Although rare, myocarditis can cause serious heart problems and may even require some people to need a heart transplant.

Myocarditis symptoms are flu-like, including fatigue, fever, joint pain, and muscle aches. Chest pain, rapid breathing, fainting, and low urine output are other symptoms of myocarditis. Due to the difficulty of diagnosing, a chest X-ray is often necessary to diagnose this rare condition.

If you feel like you have the flu but you also have severe, unexplained chest pain, you may want to be examined. If you have myocarditis, you may receive antibiotics and some other medicines for treatment.

Related article: All about myocarditis

4- Chest pain due to rib fracture

A rib fracture can be the result of an accident, such as from a fall or being hit by a motor vehicle. Rib fracture can also occur with prolonged coughing, repetitive movements, or excessively intense exercise.

Like other rib injuries, symptoms of a rib fracture include discomfort when breathing deeply, pain when bending over and getting up, or a feeling of pressure in the chest and rib area.

Chest pain that is persistent and worsens when breathing or moving may be a sign of a rib fracture. Broken ribs may heal on their own, but the process may take several months. Pain relievers can be used as prescribed or as needed.

5- Chest pain due to atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a rapid and irregular heart rate that occurs when the upper chambers of the heart beat out of coordination or out of sync with the lower chambers of the heart.

If atrial fibrillation is diagnosed, several treatment options will need to be identified on an individual basis to prevent serious health problems, including lifestyle changes, medications, and possible surgical intervention.

Often, people with atrial fibrillation experience no symptoms and only discover their condition during a routine physical exam. Sometimes, however, symptoms such as drowsiness, general weakness, heart palpitations, dizziness, confusion, difficulty breathing and sometimes chest pain may occur. This can be easily diagnosed by your doctor with an EKG.

6- Chest pain due to coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease is a condition that develops as a result of plaque buildup in the arteries. Symptoms are often mistaken for heartburn or indigestion and include a feeling of heaviness in the chest area, numbness, burning and pain in the chest. Discomfort is usually felt in the chest area, but is also common in the left shoulder or arm, neck or back.

A physical examination along with stress tests or heart monitoring is necessary for the diagnosis of coronary heart disease. Treatment usually includes quitting smoking and not consuming high-fat foods, avoiding stressful situations and people, taking prescription medications, and sometimes surgical procedures.

Chest pain from coronary artery disease is caused by poor blood flow to the heart. Often accompanied by nausea, feeling unwell, sweating and tightness in the chest, pain in the left arm and jaw. These symptoms indicate poor blood flow to the heart.

If you have had this disease before and have been evaluated by your doctor, you should rest and take the medications given to you. If you are experiencing any symptoms for the first time, it is a good idea to see a doctor.

Read More  Causes of Pain Under Left Rib and Back

7- Chest pain due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

When one part of the heart becomes thicker than the other, it’s called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body. While it can affect people of all ages, younger patients typically have the more severe forms.

This is usually genetic in the family or occurs when an athlete suddenly collapses to the ground and has a heart attack. That’s why most athletes are screened by echocardiography.

While some people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy experience no symptoms, others may experience dizziness, fainting during strenuous activities, chest pain when running or exercising, palpitations, and shortness of breath on waking.

Medicines are often used to regulate the rhythm of the heart, and blood thinners are used to reduce the risk of blood clots. Pacemakers can sometimes be inserted to treat this condition.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can develop suddenly in any part of the heart tissue, so if you experience fainting or unexplained symptoms after exercise, it’s best to seek medical attention.

8- Chest pain due to lung abscess

A lung abscess is a very rare condition thanks to today’s medical treatments as it is typically the result of a serious infection from pneumonia or tuberculosis.

With a lung abscess, a cavity forms in the lungs and fills with pus. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, a general feeling of sickness for several weeks or months, clubbing of the fingers, a bluish skin color and chest pain.

A lung abscess can be diagnosed with a biopsy, scans, or a chest X-ray. Although treatment usually includes antibiotics, surgery may be required in some cases.

High-risk causes of chest pain

1- Chest pain due to lung cancer

Lung cancer is a deadly and rapidly spreading cancer. A persistent cough is typically the first symptom. Other common symptoms of lung cancer are loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, wheezing, weight loss and fatigue.

Chest pain isn’t as common a sign of lung cancer as the others we’ve listed here, but if you smoke and experience chest pain that gets worse when you cough or laugh and it’s accompanied by any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

2- Chest pain due to heart attack

A heart attack is when blood flow to part of the heart is cut off. This can cause varying degrees of chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, and feeling unwell. Unfortunately, the symptoms can be quite variable and in some cases even mild and ignored.

If you have chest pain and have never experienced it before, you should call 911 and seek emergency treatment, especially if you have shortness of breath and pain radiating to your arm, back or jaw.

3- Chest pain due to aortic dissection

Aortic dissection occurs when the large blood vessel exiting the heart ruptures and can be life-threatening in some cases. Aortic dissections are rare, but most commonly affect men in their 60s and 70s who smoke and have high blood pressure .

Sudden severe pain in the chest is common among the symptoms of aortic dissection. The pain radiates to the back and fainting may occur. If you are experiencing chest-to-back pain, dizziness, and visual-speech disturbances, you should seek medical help immediately.

4- Chest pain due to hemothorax

Chest traumas are usually the cause of hemothorax, which is the accumulation of blood between the lung and chest wall. This condition can also occur in those with blood clots, lung cancer, or tuberculosis.

Symptoms of hemothorax include anxiety, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if they occur after an injury such as a car accident or fall.

Chest X-ray and computed tomography scan are usually required for diagnosis. Treatment usually involves placing a chest tube to drain the blood and re-expand the lung. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary.

5- Chest pain due to pneumothorax

The term pneumothorax is the medical term for a collapsed lung that occurs when the amount of air between the lung and the chest wall increases. This is usually very painful.

When the lung collapses, the lung cannot expand as it tries to breathe, causing difficulty breathing and severe chest and lung pain. Pneumothorax can occur suddenly and without symptoms, so it is also known as spontaneous pneumothorax.

More often, this occurs after trauma in which a direct chest injury, such as a rib fracture, gunshot wound, or stabbing, occurred.

A pneumothorax can result from an injury or be caused by a disease such as pneumonia. Pneumothoraxes can vary in severity, mild cases show almost no symptoms, and severe cases can cause severe pain in the lung and chest area.

A chest X-ray is necessary to diagnose the condition and treatment; This can range from simple observation and oxygen support to chest tube placement. If pneumothorax occurs spontaneously, surgery may be performed to prevent future lung failure.

6- Chest pain due to pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism occurs when one of the pulmonary veins is occluded. Usually this presents with a clot forming in the deep veins in the legs and pelvis. However, in some cases, it can also occur as a result of a surgical operation.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you feel short of breath, have intense chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply, move, or cough, or have a cough with bloody sputum. This is especially true for those with deep vein thrombosis, a history of recent travel, inactivity, trauma and surgery, and pregnant women.

Pulmonary embolism treatment involves medical resolution or surgical removal of the blood clot. Follow-up treatment includes the use of blood-thinning medications to prevent the condition from recurring.

As a result

Mild chest pain often resolves on its own. In some cases, your doctor can treat and resolve chest pain caused by many common conditions. These may include acid reflux, anxiety attacks, and asthma or related disorders.

However, chest pain can also be a symptom of any life-threatening condition. If you think you’re having a heart attack or other heart problem, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

Once your doctor makes a diagnosis, he or she will recommend treatments to help you manage your condition.

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