The first thing that comes to our mind when we refer to chest pain is the fear of a heart attack. Even though the fact remains that all types of chest pain are not related to cardiac problems. It can be a symptom of a number of non-cardiac problems as well. There are times when chest pain is an indication of a threat to life. At other times, it is not a serious health issue at all and it just causes mild inconvenience. For instance, chest pain due to a muscle catch is quite a common occurrence. While running at a high speed, if you stop suddenly, then you can get a twitch in the muscles of the chest wall. Similarly, muscle catch can happen due to fast breathing or abnormal posture as well.
Left Side Chest Pain
Since our heart is located at the left side of the chest, the prime cause of a left side chest pain is often assumed to be a heart problem. When there is any blockage in the artery and sufficient amount of oxygen fails to reach the heart, acute chest pain is experienced due to heart attack. This pain is usually not confined to the chest region, but gets extended to the shoulder, the throat and sometimes, the jaw. It is accompanied by other symptoms like palpitation, excessive sweating, vomiting and paleness of skin.
However, every time you feel chest pain, there is no need to panic. Even minor problems like acid reflux, heartburn or gas can lead to a left-side chest pain. The gases formed inside the intestines and stomach give an upward thrust to the chest wall. This can, in turn, give rise to a condition of breathlessness, tightness or pain in the chest-which is similar to cardiac pain. Some people may experience pain in the left side of the chest under the influence of excessive mental stress or physical exertion. In these conditions, the heart needs more blood to sustain the heartbeat. As a result, symptoms like intense chest pain, breathlessness and sweating arise. The intensity of the symptoms decrease with time, but they tend to recur.
Right Side Chest Pain
Right-side chest pain is rarely related to the heart's health. Even so, some of the causes can be dangerous to health. These are - pneumonia, gallbladder diseases or liver inflammation. Pneumonia is an infectious disease that leads to inflammation of the lungs. Here, the chest pain is accompanied by fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, etc. A constant sharp pain at the right side of the chest is an indication of presence of gallstones inside the gallbladder. Gallstones are formed due to crystallization of bile and cholesterol which leads to an inflammation of the gallbladder.
Sometimes, an abdominal pain is mistaken with chest pain. If there is pain, the first thing that needs to be identified is whether the pain is oriented locally or centrally. In some cases, it has been observed that when gas problems turn severe, an acute form of stomach pain is experienced by the patient. In these cases, the patient fails to determine whether the origin of the pain is the chest or the abdomen.
The root cause of chest pain needs to be established first, before starting any treatment. Thus, anyone suffering from chest pain should consult the doctor without any delay. In case of any severe chest pain, electrocardiogram and chest radiograph are conducted to detect any heart problems. An ultrasound is required for the diagnosis of gallstones, and a blood test for a diagnosis of hepatitis. Once the underlying cause is determined, doctors decide the course of treatment.