Chest pain refers to pain in any section of the chest. Chest pain may be felt anywhere from the neck to the upper abdomen. In most cases, depending on the cause, chest pain can be
- Sharp pain- This is a sudden or intense pain in the chest region
- A tight, crushing, or squeezing sensation
In most cases, people associate chest pain with heart complications. However, this is not always the case. For example, chest pain can come from the lungs, ribs, or esophagus. Chest pain also varies from one person to another depending on some factors like age, weight, stress levels, lifestyle, and sex among other factors.
Chest pain is a common condition, for instance in the U.S, about 6-8 million patients annually, report to emergency departments with chest pains.Other associated symptoms of chest pain include vomiting, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and sweating.
It should also be noted that some chest pain may be serious while others may not. The type, duration, and severity of the pain among other symptoms can guide more on diagnosis and treatment.
What Causes Sudden Sharp Pain in Chest?
As discussed earlier, chest pain can be an indication of a life-threatening medical condition or just an uncomfortable sigh of a passing problem like indigestion. For instance, in America, about 5.8 million people who visit emergency rooms with chest pains, about 85% get diagnosed with heart unrelated conditions.
However, a sudden sharp pain in the chest whether you are resting or exercising should not be ignored as it can be an indication of a serious problem or not. Below are some of the conditions that cause sudden chest pains.
- GERD– The Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It can cause a tender and sharp pain in the chest which in most cases is mistaken for a heart attack. It occurs as a result of the stomach contents or acid flow back into the food-pipe thereby irritating the esophagus creating a chest pain or a burning sensation.
- Stable Angina– This often occurs during physical exertion like climbing the stairs or working out. This pain only lasts for a few minutes and reduces with rest.
- Pleuritis- This is usually the inflammation of the lungs lining. It feels like a pressure or pain in the chest which worsen if you try taking a deep breath.
- Costochondritis- This is the inflammation of the cartilage. It causes pain in the chest around the breastbone as a result of viral infection.
Sudden Sharp Pain in Chest Symptoms
Chest pain that occurs suddenly should not be ignored at all. In fact, a sudden sharp pain in the chest is commonly a symptom of a heart attack. However, it is not always associated with heart attack. For example, a sudden sharp pain in chest that goes away quickly left side can be an indication of a heart problem. Below are some symptoms of sudden chest pain.
- Chest Discomfort
Sudden Sharp Pain in Chest that Goes Away Quickly – What Could it be?
Sudden sharp pains that disappear quickly can be caused due to gas, heartburn, smoking, heart problems, stress, and lack of exercises among other factors. Often sudden sharp chest pain lasting a few seconds is not an indication of a serious condition. However, a sharp pain in heart for a second may be dangerous and should be treated.
How to Treat Sharp Pain in the Chest?
- In case you experience a sharp chest pain, it is always important to seek immediate healthcare attention before trying home treatment. It’s very hard to distinguish between symptoms of a heart attack from that of unserious health conditions. For example, if a quick sharp pain in chest center is not treated quickly, it may result in a more severe condition that may even demand a surgery in order to relieve the pain. Before trying treating the condition by yourself, seek medical diagnostic test to understand exactly what is causing the pain.
- In case you are walking or exercising and you experience a chest pain, you slow down and take a rest for a few minutes. If the pain continues, get medical care.
- We have seen that smoking can cause chest pain. It constricts the blood vessels in your body making your heart work harder resulting in a chest pain. Chest pains related to smoking often diminish within few weeks of quitting smoking.
- Chest pains related to stomach problems can be settled with an antacid tablet, drinking water, drinking a spoon of Maalox, or eating crackers. This will help reduce the pain. It’s also important that you avoid foods that irritate your stomach.
- Chest pain caused by stress and anxiety can also be settled by relaxing, meditating, or taking a vacation. Often, anxiety and stress buildup may result in a chest pain.
Medically Reviewed By
Catherine is a dedicated freelance health and science writer committed to excellence and professionalism. She specializes in health topics including diet and nutrition, immune-related diseases, surgery, and cancer.