Tightness in chest can be cause for alarm as there are many vital organs in this area which cannot afford to suffer injury. This can cause patients to panic and call for emergency help due to concerns that a heart attack or life threatening disease may be occurring. In some cases this reaction may be necessary, but in many other circumstances do not require immediate medical attention to keep you safe.
Possible Causes of Tightness in Chest
Given below are some possible causes of tightness in chest, involving underlying diseases, virus spread, allergic reaction, emotional problems, etc.
Heart attack: in extreme cases, tightness in the chest can be the sign of a heart condition such as angina or a heart attack. This tightness will be severe, often feeling as though there is pressure on the chest or a crushing, squeezing sensation on the heart. The tightness in the chest will quickly spread to the jaw, shoulders or back as the heart attack takes hold. You may also experience dizziness, disorientation or numbness in the limbs. Contact emergency medical services immediately if you think you are having a heart attack.
Tearing the wall of the aorta can also lead to tightness or sudden pain in the chest. This pain will also be felt in the upper back. This may also be a sign that a blood clot has developed in the lung, though this pain may be farther down in the chest. These conditions can be fatal or lead to a stroke, so you should get medical help right away if you think you are suffering from this condition.
The shingles virus often causes sharp pain and tightness in the chest as it begins to surge through the body. This pain is often concentrated on one side of the body more so than the other and will stretch from the chest through to the back. A rash will appear as the outbreak becomes more pronounced. Get medical attention as soon as possible so that you can get medication to slow the spread of this virus as it can cause scarring and blindness if it goes unchecked.
Damage to the lungs can also cause sudden, sharp pain or a tight feeling in the chest. Pleurisy or swelling of the lining of the lungs may cause this pain to appear. This pain will be significantly more pronounced when you cough or try to take a deep breath. If these symptoms are paired with an increased cough or if you are coughing up phlegm you may be suffering from pneumonia.
Asthma attacks can make the chest feel tight as the airways narrow. During an asthma attack you will feel stressed and may experiencing wheezing and difficulty breathing. You may feel numbness in other parts of the body as it becomes starved for oxygen. Those being treated for asthma should use their inhaler or emergency medication to relieve these symptoms and then contact your doctor to determine if you need further care. Those who have never suffered from an asthma attack before should get medical attention right away.
Allergy: in some cases, difficulty breathing may be brought on by an allergic reaction. As this becomes more extreme it can lead to tightness in the chest that makes breathing more difficult. These extreme allergy attacks can be lethal so it is vital that you get medical help immediately if you are having trouble breathing, suddenly break out in hives or feel as though you may lose consciousness.
Panic attacks can often be mistaken for a heart attack. As the patient become agitated, you may suffer from rapid breathing and an overwhelming sense of fear. As the breathing becomes more rapid the chest can become tight and uncomfortable. It is important to try to take deep breaths and slow the breathing. Doctors often recommend breathing into a paper bag so you can see your breathing rate and focus on slowing it down. Getting away from the stimuli which is causing your mental distress can also help you return your sense of calm.
Sleep paralysis: when you wake up suddenly but are unable to move you may feel tightness in the chest caused by sleep paralysis. This condition is often accompanied by fear or a feeling as though something is pressing down on the chest. This condition is harmless and will fade as you wake and become more aware of your surroundings.
Muscle cramp: there are many muscles in the chest which can be come cramped if they are overexerted. These shooting pains can feel like tightness in the chest which might mimic a more severe condition. This tightness can manifest itself as a shooting pain if the swollen muscles are putting pressure on the nerves or lungs. Massaging the chest gently can usually relieve this discomfort.
Indigestion can also cause tightness near the chest. This tightness will make you feel as though something is stuck in the throat and can radiate to the upper back or down the arms if the condition is severe. You may expel bile or gas as which will increase your discomfort. Taking an antacid or heartburn medication will usually relieve these conditions. If you experience indigestion or heartburn frequently, make an appointment with your doctor to ensure that you are not suffering from gastroespohageal reflux or a stomach ulcer. If the pain becomes more pronounced after a fatty meal then you may be suffering from gallstones which can require surgery. You may also be dealing with narrowing of the esophagus that is causing substances to become caught on the way to the stomach.