This article will explore the potential causes of chest pain and vomiting. Some of the causes are harmless, while others can be more serious.
Common causes of chest pain and vomiting include:
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- peptic ulcer
- panic attacks
- heart attack
GERD is a disorder of the digestive system that causes symptoms including acid indigestion, heartburn, chest pain, and vomiting. People can usually manage GERD with medication and dietary changes.
Peptic ulcers develop on the lining of the stomach. They can be very painful, and symptoms include vomiting and a burning-type pain in the chest. Treatment includes medication, but sometimes surgery is necessary.
Panic attacks can be frightening, and symptoms can include feelings of tightness and pain in the chest. Stress and anxiety are leading contributors to panic attacks, so finding ways to reduce stress can help alleviate the symptoms.
Making some lifestyle changes can help address anxiety and panic attacks. People should also speak to a doctor about treatment.
Reducing stimulants, such as coffee, as well as introducing meditation and mindfulness may also help alleviate stress.
Anyone who is experiencing chest pain and vomiting should visit a doctor for a diagnosis.
Sometimes chest pain and nausea can be symptoms of a heart attack.
It is important to know that women and men can present with different symptoms.
Common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- mild chest pain and discomfort that builds up slowly
- chest pain or discomfort
- upper body discomfort
- shortness of breath
- nausea or vomiting
- sudden dizziness
- breaking out into a cold sweat
- unusual tiredness
According to the American Heart Association, women are more likely than men to experience the following:
- shortness of breath
- pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw
Heart attacks require immediate medical assistance. If someone suspects they are having a heart attack, or are with a person who is experiencing one, they should call the emergency services immediately.
Heart attack diagnosis
A heart attack is when a person experiences a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries. This blockage prevents oxygenated blood and nutrients getting to heart tissue and muscle, which can cause them to die.
A doctor can diagnose a heart attack with an electrocardiogram (EKG test) or coronary angiography. If the tests detect an irregular rhythm, it might indicate a heart problem.
Sometimes, doctors will do a blood test to diagnose a heart attack.
Angina occurs due to plaque buildup in arteries. It is a symptom of underlying heart disease, not a disease on its own.
Angina may feel like a squeezing in the chest or like indigestion. Some people may also experience pain in the following areas:
A doctor will perform a physical exam and take a full medical history. The doctor will ask about:
- family history
- smoking status
- diet history
- other risk factors
If the doctor suspects angina, they will recommend tests, such as an EKG, stress testing, a chest X-ray, and blood tests.
There is a variety of treatment options available. If symptoms are mild, treatment can include making some lifestyle changes and taking medication.
Lifestyle factors include:
- stopping smoking
- eating a healthful diet
- avoiding large meals with rich foods
- taking regular breaks from exercise if it brings on angina
- being physically active
- limiting stressful situations and managing anxiety
- maintaining a healthful weight
- taking all medicines the doctors prescribe
If these treatment options do not work, some people may require medical procedures, such as an angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting.
What are the causes in children?
Chest pain and nausea are some of the more common reasons children end up in the hospital.
Unlike adults, however, most cases of chest pain in children are benign.
- GERD: An over-production of digestive fluids, such as acid and bile, in the stomach causes the fluids to enter the food pipe, which irritates the lining. Treatment includes monitoring of the diet and over-the-counter medications.
- Musculoskeletal disorders: Pain and tenderness related to the chest wall, muscles, and skeleton should clear up over time. Always attend follow up appointments with the doctor to monitor improvements.
- Other causes: Children with asthma or who experience anxiety and stress may also develop sudden chest pain and vomiting.
When to see a doctor
Any adult who thinks they may be experiencing a heart attack should go straight to a hospital or call an ambulance.
It is essential not dismiss any symptoms as timing is key to a better outcome.
For children, evidence strongly shows that chest pain and vomiting is unlikely to be a cardiac issue. However, timely treatment is essential.
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