Chest tightness and breathlessness can be a sign of several medical conditions, related mainly to the heart and lungs. Occasionally, one can also experience such symptoms due to strenuous physical activities or exercises for a brief time period. But, severe chest pain and breathing problem are more commonly the signs of some serious health problems, that need to be evaluated and treated at the earliest.
Causes of Chest Tightness and Shortness of Breath
As has been mentioned already, discomfort and pain in the chest, as well as shortness of breath also known as dyspnea can be associated with a wide number of medical conditions.
- They can be the symptom of allergies. It could be anything from allergy to environmental allergens like dust and pollen to allergy to certain foods and drugs.
- Asthma, which is generally triggered by allergens is one of the most common causes of these symptoms. In fact, chest tightness and dyspnea (wheezing) are considered as the typical asthma symptoms. They indicate inflammation and narrowing of the airways of the lungs.
- Chest pain, cough, and labored breathing can be associated with bronchitis, which is characterized by the inflammation of mucus membranes of the bronchi. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is characterized by sudden occurrence, which is usually caused by viral infection of the respiratory tract and bronchial tubes, while chronic bronchitis develops gradually, mainly due to smoking.
- Another condition that can cause these problems is emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In this disease, the lung tissues around the smaller airways or bronchioles get damaged, which impede airflow, and cause air to get trapped in the lungs. Like chronic bronchitis, emphysema is also caused by cigarette smoking.
- If shortness of breath is accompanied by a sharp pain in the chest and cough, then it can be an indication of pleurisy or inflammation of the pleura, the membrane that covers the lungs. Pleurisy is more frequently caused by viral infection.
- Sudden and sharp tightness in chest and breathing troubles can be the warning signs of heart attack. Interruption in the supply of blood to the heart can lead to a heart attack, which can result in the death of the heart cells and heart muscle tissues, if the condition lasts for a long time.
- Like heart attack, angina can also cause pressure in the chest along with breathlessness. Angina is caused by shortage of blood and oxygen in a part of the heart muscles, mainly due to coronary artery diseases.
- Apart from these, these symptoms can be associated with several other health conditions including, pneumothorax, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, sleep apnea, and panic attacks.