Chest pain that occurs suddenly, or lasts for a long time, is a symptom that is not to be ignored. In fact, as it is a common knowledge that it is a symptom of heart attack, people are often intimidated by it. But, it is not always related to heart attack. It can be caused due to simple conditions like acid reflux or even due to severe disorders like pneumonia.
As mentioned above, pain in the chest can be caused due to minor as well as severe disorder. In minor cases, lifting very heavy objects, bending down suddenly, etc. can lead to chest pain. On the other hand, following are the other causes that can lead to sharp chest pain in men and women.
Angina pectoris, or simply angina, is a condition characterized by sharp chest pain caused due to lack of oxygen to the heart. Symptoms of this condition include pain in the middle or left side of chest, left arm pain, etc. It is essential to consult the doctor when suffering from angina as this condition can increase the risk of heart attack.
Chest pain on the left side is usually associated with heart attack. This condition occurs when the blood supply to the heart gets obstructed due to specific reasons. Sudden sharp chest pain on the left side, left arm pain, sweating profusely, etc. are the classic symptoms of heart attack.
Aortic dissection develops when the inner wall of the aorta tears, resulting in spilling of blood in outer layers. Pain in the chest, back, stroke, loss of consciousness, high blood pressure, etc. are the symptoms of this condition. It should be noted that this is a life-threatening condition, and hence, quick emergency treatment should be sought.
If you experience chest pain when breathing, then pneumonia can be one of the underlying cause. Pneumonia is a severe respiratory disorder caused due to bacteria or fungus. Fever, chest pain, headache, shortness of breath, cough, etc. are the other symptoms of this condition. Symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia are very similar to each other; but, both these conditions are very distinct to each other.
Acid reflux disease or gastrointestinal reflux disease develops when the acid in the stomach seeps back in the esophagus. This condition can arise due to numerous reasons like eating very spicy food, smoking, etc. When suffering from this condition, chest pain is accompanied with nausea, loss of appetite, sour taste in mouth, abdominal pain, etc.
Apart from the above mentioned ones, causes of chronic or acute chest pain also include Pneumothorax, Pulmonary embolism, Perforated Viscus, Precordial catch syndrome, etc. As there can be serious underlying causes, it is only wise to consult the doctor immediately in case any of these symptoms are observed.
What to Look For
❖ Stabbing pain that hurts while breathing.
❖ Pain, specifically, on the left side, accompanied with other symptoms like those mentioned above.
❖ Pain in the chest that occurs suddenly, due to no known cause.
❖ Pain that lasts for a specific duration (for a very short or long time).
❖Type of pain: acute (occurs suddenly and is very severe) or chronic (dull aching pain that comes and goes).
❖ Heaviness in the chest, or pain that does not ease even on taking painkillers.
The doctor will undertake physical examination and X-ray or MRI to diagnose the cause. In case of emergency, first aid is given as soon as the patient is admitted to the hospital. The treatment of angina depends on the severity of the condition. Medication, IV, immediate supply of oxygen, complete rest under observation, etc, are the treatment methods used for it. In case one observes symptoms of heart attack, he should seek emergency treatment to prevent further complications. Hospitalization, angioplasty, rest, medications, etc. are the treatment methods required to treat heart attack. Aortic dissection can be treated with the help of surgical procedures and medication. Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, whereas, other medications are used to treat pneumonia caused by other conditions.
Lastly, as a concluding note, one should remember that chest pain is often associated with severe disorders and hence, it should not be ignored. You should get the condition checked by the doctor immediately and take further treatment. This write-up is meant only to provide information, and is not to be substituted for proper diagnosis and treatment. Take care!