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Reasons for left chest pains vary greatly. This condition happens when an individual is experiencing pain on the left side of the general area. This can happen for different reasons. It could be mild situations like strenuous work, exercise, bad posture, or severe health conditions like pneumonia, heart disease, or even trauma. The pain may also spread from the chest to other body parts, like the arms, back, neck, and head. The pain also comes in different forms. It can feel like a tightness or an ache in your chest area, and it can be sharp. It can also be sharp pinching or dull pains.
Mild chest pains can quickly resolve without much medical care or attention, especially the ones from stress or exercise. Severe chest pains should always be taken seriously, and medical attention sought immediately. Chest pains can last for a few moments to some hours, while in other cases, they can last for months.
General symptoms of left chest pain
Symptoms of chest pain differ according to the origin. However, some common symptoms which may be seen in all, if not most, cases of chest pain include
- Pressure and tightness in the chest area
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fast (tachycardia) and irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia)
Any of these symptoms can signal a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. Seek urgent medical care or attention.
Causes of left chest pain
Some diseases and conditions which may lead to left chest pain are as follows.
This happens when the blood supply to the heart is obstructed or cut off completely, this leads to the cardiac muscles being deprived of the oxygen it needs to function. This condition is also referred to as myocardial infarction. Some of the symptoms experienced in this condition include
- Tightness, pain, or heaviness in the chest area or arm.
- Pain or discomfort in the back, throat, or jaw
- Dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and anxiety
- Tachycardia and arrhythmia
- Burning sensation in the chest
In women, some of the main symptoms experienced include
Myocardial infarction is a severe health condition and can be fatal emergency treatment is not administered; hence immediate medical care is advised if any of the above symptoms are experienced.
This is not a disease condition; rather, it could be a symptom indicating the onset of a health challenge. It may also arise from strenuous activity or exercise. The symptoms may include pressure or pain, squeezing, or tightness in the chest; it may also occur on the shoulder, arm, or back. If these last for more than minutes, seek immediate medical attention.
This is the inflammation of the heart muscles, which can interfere with the ability of the heart to carry out its function. Myocarditis can be caused by bacteria, viruses, drug reactions, fungi, inflammatory conditions, chemical reactions, and radiation poisoning. Some symptoms experienced in myocarditis include
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Tachycardia and arrhythmia
- Fatigue and light-headedness
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Flu-like symptoms
Myocarditis usually resolves when the cause is addressed without many residual complications. However, severe cardiac muscle damage may result in serious complications like heart failure, stroke, and sudden cardiac death.
This could also be referred to as acid reflux. This occurs when stomach acid repeatedly flows back into the esophagus, which then irritates the esophageal lining. When acid reflux repeatedly happens over time, it can cause gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). The symptoms experienced include
- Burning sensation in the chest area, especially after eating
- Regurgitation of food and sour liquid into the mouth
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
Medical attention should be sought if the above symptoms are experienced.
Chest wall trauma
These occur in the chest area, and they may cause only bruising in mild cases. In contrast, in severe trauma, they may cause broken ribs, a fractured sternum, and internal organ damage. The trauma may be due to blunt or penetrating forces. The symptoms seen in trauma vary due to the cause, but some general symptoms include
- Chest pain which worsens on laughing, coughing, or sneezing
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest or back tenderness
- Swelling of the chest region
- Coughing up of blood
Chest injuries that interfere with breathing and lead to damage to the internal organs or internal bleeding are life-threatening, and emergency medical attention should be sought. Internal bleeding may be evident in some cases (coughing up blood) or not so apparent in other cases (paleness, clammy skin, nausea, and extreme thirst).
This is a condition where part of the stomach pushes into the thoracic cavity through the hiatus of the diaphragm (sheet-like muscle separating the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity). A small hiatal hernia usually does not cause serious medical issues. A large hiatal hernia, however, can cause reflux of food and stomach acid to the esophagus, causing heartburn. A very large hiatal hernia would constrict the stomach, causing circulation difficulties, among other complications, this would require surgery to correct. Hiatal hernia can be caused by weakened diaphragm muscles; it can also be caused by injury or trauma, surgery, congenital anomalies, persistent coughing, straining during vomiting or defecation, and the constant lifting of heavy objects can also cause it. Symptoms experienced in larger hiatal hernia include
- Regurgitating food and sour liquid back into the mouth
- Acid reflux
- Chest and abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Excreting black poo and vomiting blood, which could indicate gastrointestinal bleeding
Medical attention should be sought in the persistence of the above symptoms.
An infection of one or both lungs; bacteria, viruses, and fungi can cause it. The infection leads to inflammation in the lungs’ alveoli, which makes them fill with fluid or pus, making breathing difficult. Both viral and bacterial pneumonia are contagious. Fungal pneumonia is gotten from the environment rather than through human contact. Symptoms seen in pneumonia vary with the cause, the location, and the severity of infection, but some of the common symptoms seen include
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath with or without exercise
- Loss of appetite
The immune response to the lung infection is what causes pneumonia. Urgent medical attention should be sought in order to diagnose and treat pneumonia.
There are many other conditions that may elicit chest pains; for example
- Pulmonary embolism
- Collapsed lung
- Oesophageal problems
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Panic attacks
- Lung cancer
Several conditions share symptoms that include chest pain. Suppose you experience chest pain for unknown reasons. In that case, medical help should be sought so a diagnosis can be given and treatment started in order to resolve the cause of the chest pain.
Sudden chest pain followed by symptoms such as shortness of breath, pressure, tightness of the chest, dizziness, light-headedness, and fatigue could signal a life-threatening emergency. Medical attention should be sought immediately.
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