Most of the time, tightness or pressure in the chest causes an alarming situation, wherein you assume that it must have a relation with some cardiac problems. However, I would like to inform you that it may occur due to some non-cardiac problems as well. For instance, minor problems in chest muscles or nerves located in that region can trigger this kind of discomfort. It is also associated with certain psychological problems. The knowledge of the causes behind the chest tightness is important to keep unnecessary fear at bay.
Causes of Tightness in the Chest and Their Treatment Options
In this section, we are going to address the common causes that can lead to tightness in the chest as a symptom. Based on the underlying condition, the treatment is also different. So, we have also discussed briefly about the possible treatments for each of the following causes.
Heart Attack: This is obviously the most serious cause of chest tightness. It is felt at the center of the chest and is accompanied by a dull chest pain which radiates to other parts like the shoulders, neck, arms, and even in the jaws. Other signs of heart attack are excessive sweating, hyperventilation, lightheadedness, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. This condition requires an emergency medical intervention.
Angina: Here, the tightness is felt due to an insufficient supply of blood to the heart. Angina is considered as a preliminary stage of any serious heart disease. It happens when the veins get clogged up with fatty deposits or cholesterol. This problem should be taken seriously and immediate medical attention should be provided. These patients are advised follow a diet which is low in fat content and rich in dietary fiber to reduce cholesterol. Exercise also helps in lowering the cholesterol levels.
Digestive Problems: Tightness in chest due to indigestion is a harmless condition but often causes panic among people. This is because the pain and discomfort in the chest tend to move towards the upper part of the body and arms, as in the case of a heart attack. However, you can distinguish between the two as indigestion gives a feeling that something is stuck inside the chest and is mostly felt just after eating. Moreover, belching and gas are some other accompanying symptoms of indigestion. Doctors prescribe medicines to treat the gastrointestinal problems in order to get rid of tightness in the chest.
Sleep Disorders: Sleep paralysis and sleep apnea are the two most common forms of sleep disorders that can trigger chest discomfort while sleeping. In sleep paralysis, one may wake up in the middle of the night with an uneasiness. It is accompanied by a sense of fear which makes it difficult to move the entire body. It is not a serious condition and does not require any treatment. Sleep apnea is a disorder where the patient cannot breathe for a short period of time while sleeping due to blockage in the nasal passage. Then they wake up suddenly and feel the tightness and shortness of breath. It is mostly caused by obesity or deformed structure in the airway. This kind of sleep disturbance if experienced quite frequently, it requires treatment. Doctors prescribe medicines to keep the symptoms in check. However, there is no permanent cure for this problem.
Panic Attack: A panic attack can be identified with symptoms like tightness in throat and chest, increase in heartbeat, shaking of the body, perspiration, restlessness, and so on. This happens when the mind is under a lot of stress. As a result, the muscles in the chest region are under pressure which makes them weak and tautness is felt in them. The symptoms observed in a panic attack are quite similar to that of a heart attack. What makes it different is that it does not give the radiating pain that a patient experiences in a heart attack. Moreover, the heart attack symptoms start all of a sudden and worsen with time; whereas the symptoms of an anxiety attack usually subside after some time. Treatment for this disorder involves use of oral medicines along with a number of therapeutic techniques.
Other Causes: During an asthma attack, queasy sensation is felt in chest while taking deep breaths. This is because the inflammation in the respiratory tract makes the breathing passage narrow and leads to breathing trouble and chest discomfort. It requires immediate medical treatment. Similar condition can be triggered by allergies and pneumonia. Allergy symptoms are relieved with suitable medicines; while the aim of pneumonia treatment is to eliminate the lung infection with the help of antibiotics and antiviral medicines. Any kind of injury in the chest area can give soreness and tightness in the injury site. A trapped nerve in the chest can be responsible for the constant tight feeling around the affected nerve. Treatment for both the cases involve rest, ice massage, and use of anti-inflammatory medicines.
If you experience tightness in your chest, you should not be anxious. It is not good for your health as it can make the symptoms more severe. Since the matter could be serious, you should not neglect it either. Visit a doctor for proper treatment of the actual cause. Thus, you can prevent any further recurrence of this annoying symptom.