Chest pain remedies – how to treat it and causes
Chest Pain 101: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Remedies
Experiencing chest pain is certainly alarming. That stabbing sharp pain is definitely hard to ignore. When this happens, the very first thing that comes to mind is heart attack. In fact, chest pain cases is considered to be the second most common complaint and accounts for an estimated 16 million annual emergency room visits in the United States. In some cases, it can be a telltale sign of serious heart-related condition. But, it can also be a symptom of other medical causes that may not necessarily be life threatening. So, to relieve you of any anxiety about this condition, let us take a closer look at what causes it and the available chest pain remedies and treatments.
What is Chest Pain?
In its simplest sense, chest pain is described as any pain that you feel within your upper body, typically between the shoulders and the abdomen. It comes in a variety of pain thresholds. Some experience mild discomfort, dull ache, piercing sharp stab or a burning or crushing sensation. Others may even feel the pain radiate towards the neck and back area.
While we almost associate chest pain with the heart, it can actually also be a symptom of a condition in the lungs, esophagus, ribs, tendons and the nerves. It can also be caused by excessive exercise, an injury in the chest area, a virus or anxiety, excitement and panic attacks.
Causes of Chest Pain
Here are some of the health conditions that may be associated and are possible causes of experiencing chest pains.
- Heart-related chest pain
- Angina – restricted blood flow to the heart
- Myocardial infarction or heart attack – a reduction in the blood flow through the heart blood vessels, which causes the death of heart muscle cells.
- Myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle
- Pericarditis – an inflammation or infection of the sac around the heart
- Cardiomyopathy – thickening of the heart muscle, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood
- Aortal dissection – a tear in the inner lining of the aorta, which causes massive internal bleeding and interruption of blood flow to vital organs
- Mitral valve prolapse – heart valve fails to close properly
- Lung-related chest pain
- Pleuritis – inflammation or irritation of the lining of the lungs
- Pneumonia – lung abscess
- Pneumothorax – collapse of the lung
- Pulmonary embolism – blood clot in the lung
- Pulmonary hypertension – high blood levels in the lung arteries
- Asthma – inflammatory disorder of the airways
- Gastrointestinal chest pain
- Acid reflux/ heart burn/ GERD – contents of the stomach move back in the throat, which can be caused by smoking, obesity and eating spicy or fatty foods, among others
- Esophageal disorders – this may include spasms, high-cracker contractions, esophageal hypersensitivity and esophageal rupture.
- Gallbladder problems
- Peptic ulcers – painful sores in the lining of the stomach
- Hiatal hernia – happens when the stomach pushes into the lower chest after eating
- Pancreatitis – inflamed pancreas
- Other chest pain causes
- Rib problems or fracture
- Costochindritis – inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to your breastbone
- Muscle strain
- Compression fracture
- Panic attack
Chest pain can also be accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate, low heart rate, excessive sweating and very low blood pressure. Depending on the cause, it may resolve after a few minutes or can escalate into an emergency case.
Chest Pain vs. Heart Attack
However, a few other symptoms to look out for are fever, chills, yellow-green mucus, difficulty in swallowing and chest pain that does not immediately go away. If any of these manifest and lasts for more than 15 to 20 minutes, it is likely that this is a serious case of heart attack. Also, it is important that you should know that your risk for heart attack is higher if you are a smoker, overweight, have high cholesterol, high blood or diabetes and have a family history of heart attack. When this happens, immediately call 911 or rush to the hospital emergency room.
Chest Pain Treatments
The best thing to do when you experience chest pain is to immediately call and check with your doctor or nurse. Generally, chest pain can be treated with medication, like nitroglycerin, clot-busting drugs, blood thinners, antacids and anti-anxiety medicines. But, it may also involve non-invasive procedures or even surgery, like lung re-inflation, cardiac catherization and surgical repair of the arteries.
Chest Pain Remedies
Home remedies may not be the best way to address your chest pain. But there are certain things you can do to help relieve chest pain or to avoid it from happening.
- Lie down and relax. It is best to stop, change or take a break from any activity that is causing the pain.
- Get some fresh air. Sometimes going outside, sitting down and breathing in fresh air can help in opening up the airways that may congest your lungs, which is causing the chest pain.
- Breathing exercise. A simple breathing exercise can sometimes help. Remember to slowly breath in and out at a steady pace.
- Garlic mixed with milk. This may sound as an odd combination, but garlic added to milk can help relieve spasms of the small arteries. In particular, garlic helps to break up cholesterol within the blood vessels and also relieves dizziness and shortness of breath.
- Basil. It contains antioxidants that prevent cholesterol buildup and enhance blood flow.
- Drinking tea. For one, tea helps you to feel relaxed. Specifically, hibiscus tea works really well because it is known to contain antioxidants that help to decrease fat accumulation in the arteries. However, for gastro-related chest pain, tea may not be the best remedy as it can aggravate acid reflux.
- Meditation. Another simple remedy is to do meditation. It helps to increase general blood flow, slows the heart rate and relaxes the mind.
- Back massage. This can help relieve the tension and pain that carries on to your back, shoulders and neck.
- Avoid bad lifestyle. Prevention is the best cure. So, it is best to avoid vices like smoking, alcohol, poor food choices and excessive exercise and stress. All of these can contribute to the related causes that result to chest pain, or worse heart attack.
Still, always remember that no matter how mild the pain you will feel in your chest, call your physician and seek some medical advice. Most chest pain may be a minor case, but never discount the fact that it can be life threatening.