When Should You Worry About Chest Pain?


Jason Sellers, MD

Chest pain can be a frightening symptom, but it can also be caused by a variety of different conditions. Today we will discuss the possible causes of chest pain, as well as when it is important to seek medical attention.

Chest pain is a common symptom that can come in many forms and be caused by a wide range of medical conditions. For example, you may experience chest discomfort in situations as diverse as during a stressful meeting or after a big greasy meal. In any case, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor to rule out more serious causes.

What are the possible causes for chest pain?

For American Heart Month, obviously the most concerning is a heart attack where blood flow is blocked to the heart. This is often, but not always, accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath or nausea and vomiting. However, there are many more common conditions that can cause intermittent chest discomfort:

  • Respiratory conditions: We’ve seen this most recently with COVID-19. Other conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis can also cause chest pain due to inflammation in the airways.
  • Gastrointestinal concerns: Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are very common causes of chest pain. They occur when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation in the chest.
  • Musculoskeletal conditions: Muscle pain or inflammation of the cartilage around the ribs can cause pain in the chest. This is often more apparent when you’ve recently changed an exercise routine.
  • Anxiety or panic attacks: Chest pain is a common symptom of anxiety. Panic symptoms can include chest discomfort, along with other symptoms such as shortness of breath or a racing heartbeat.

When should I see my doctor?

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience severe chest pain, particularly if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or sweating. If you have a history of heart disease or other chronic medical conditions, it is especially important to seek out medical care immediately.

If you are not sure what to do next, reach out to your doctor to get further guidance. If you are a Radish patient, you can send us a chat! It is important to talk with your doctor about symptoms and discuss treatment options. Many of these conditions can be successfully treated through telehealth, so feel free to schedule an appointment with your Radish doctor today!

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