Chest pain is the severe pain and squeezing, crushing and pressure felt in the chest that can last for a few minutes. If the pain moves into your neck, arm, left shoulder or jaw, it can already be considered as a serious condition. That’s why for most cases, even though chest pain is non-cardiac in origin, it is still generally considered as a medical emergency.
Interior organs such as the heart, lungs, esophagus, muscle and bone, and even the skin can cause chest pains. Part of the pain may come from other body parts due to the complex nerve distribution in the body.
An acute myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, is a serious cause of chest pain. Other life-threatening causes of chest pain include angina, a condition where there is an imbalance distribution between the oxygen demand of the heart and the amount of oxygen delivered via the blood; aortic dissection or a tear in the inner lining of the aorta; pulmonary embolismspontaneous pneumothorax or collapsed lung; perforated viscus or a hole or tear in the wall of any area of the gastrointestinal tract; and cocaine-induced chest pain.
Other conditions that are not immediately life-threatening, including pneumonia, acute pericarditis, and disorders of the esophagus, mitral valve prolapse, costochondritis (the inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs) and herpes zoster or shingles (a reactivation of the viral infection that causes chickenpox) may also cause chest pain.
Fortunately, anyone who suffers mild or even severe chest pain should not worry too much because a lot of treatment may be done to relieve the pain. The first thing a person suffering from chest pain should do is to seek medical treatment. However, if the patient is still at home waiting for the ambulance, one way to reduce the pain is through first aid. If the chest pain has become unbearable, have the patient chew an aspirin.
It is better for the patient to chew the pill before swallowing it. If the pain does not subside, give the patient another tablet. There is no evidence that shows that taking two tablets of aspirin has any side effect. If someone is suffering from angina, give him nitroglycerin tablets and put it under his tongue while calling for an ambulance. More treatments may be done but if it involves sensitive body parts like the heart and lungs, it is best to consult a doctor because x-rays, blood tests or sometimes electrocardiogram and CT pulmonary angiogram are usually needed to determine the real cause of chest pain. Knowing the medical history of the patient is the most important tool.
If you suffer chest pains, consult your doctor immediately. It pays to know the cause as soon as possible than risk getting any worse.