By Dr Joel Akande
In this article, we will examine some common causes of chest pain. The solutions and approaches to resolving the pain will also be discussed.
Chest pain that is central in nature may be due to irritation of gullet or oesophagus. This is what physicians call oesophagitis. Pain in the oesophagus may also be due to blockage with resultant inability to swallow food and drink. Stomach inflammation and ulcer can result in pain occurring centrally and occasionally radiating to the back of the individual. This kind of pain can be due to peptic ulcer disease.
Chest pain may also be due to infections. Most important of these are infections of the lungs in what may be pneumonia, bronchiectasis, bronchitis and bronchopneumonia. In some occasions, diseases of blood vessels or malformation of blood vessels such as what doctors call coartation of aorta, may result in severe chest pain.
All of the above may cause pain and complications that lead to death or permanent disabilities.
Of particular note amongst causes of chest pain is pain that relates to the heart. The peculiarity of pain originating from the heart is that unlike many other chest pains, may lead to immediate death. When the heart is deprived of enough blood supply and oxygen, parts of the heart could suffer immediate death as a result. This partial death that is called myocardial infarction or “heart attack” in common language, could trigger severe pain that leads to a lot of complications including immediate death of the individual.
Other causes of chest pain may be injuries to the chest bones that occurs in falls, accidents and assaults. In some circumstances, air could be trapped between various layers of the chest: in particular between the chest wall and the lungs. In such a case, breathlessness and panic could occur. The effect can be dramatic and death may result if no immediate relief is provided.
Some pains from other parts of the body may be referred to the chest. This kind of referral may occur in diseases of the neck, back, and abdomen (tummy).
Symptoms of Chest Pain.
Everyone knows what a pain is. Chest pain that is of the heart in origin may also be felt alongside the neck, left arm and the back. In some occasions, chest pain could be accompanied by vomiting, fever, breathlessness, cough and other symptoms.
What To Do If You Have Chest Pain
A chest pain that is sudden and persisting or sharp and distressing requires immediate medical attention. Do not delay in seeking help. Similarly, a pain that is accompanied by vomiting of blood or coughing of blood requires instant medical intervention.
Chest pain with cough that induces breathlessness which may be seen in asthmatic patients and persons with pneumonia should be handled by competent physician without time wasting. Chest pain which is gradually causing disability by the day is a pain in evolution. Such may be the case in pneumonia and diseases of the blood vessels.
What the doctor may do. In most cases, the attending physician may order chest x-ray, MRI or CTScan and several blood tests. In addition, ECG to trace the activities of the heart may be ordered depending on the circumstances.
In all, simple chest pain as in common cold may be treated by simple analgesic such as paracetamol. Do not take aspirin until the cause of the chest pain is determined. Taking aspirin may worsen the pain if the pain is from the stomach or there is issue of bleeding. Pain origination from the heart may be helped by aspiring. Any pain, not the least, chest pain, that refuses to go away in spite of home remedy, needs medical attention urgently. Attend your medical doctor without delay.