Chest pain – it’s not always your heart – Can constipation cause chest pain

Disclaimer: Please note that this article is research based and some of the views and findings do not conform with the CSN Diet.

Few things send chills down our spines quite like the sensation of pain shooting through our chests. That is after all where we keep one of our most important organs.

Chest pain can be terrifying and it should never be ignored, the truth is that it’s not always dangerous and can be brought on by a variety of causes. 

This brings us to the question: what is the role of gut health and constipation in chest pain?

can constipation cause chest pain

Why does my chest hurt? 12 possible reasons

Pain in the chest can be a hair-raising sensation. No one wants to suffer a heart attack, and that is the first thing that enters your mind when your chest hurts.

In actual fact, chest pain isn’t always dangerous. In fact, there are so many potential causes of chest pain that the odds of a heart attack becomes rather small – but never a risk to dismiss.

Medical News Today offers a substantial list of  possible causes of chest pain, some of which includes the following:

  1. Heart attack is a possibility, which is why you should always be careful to dismiss chest pain.
    Other heart attack symptoms include pain in the jaw, neck or back, lightheadedness, weakness, pain in arms or shoulders and shortness of breath.
    Women may also experience sudden tiredness, nausea or vomiting.
  1. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, usually as the result of a viral infection.
  1. Angina feels like a squeezing pain or pressure on the chest and occurs when not enough blood is getting to the heart.
  1. Pericarditis is inflammation of the sac around the heart.
  1. Mitral valve prolapse is when a valve in the heart doesn’t close properly. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, chest discomfort and fatigue.
  1. When the membrane that covers the lungs becomes inflamed, you develop pleurisy, which can be a cause of chest pain.
  1. Pneumonia can cause sharp or stabbing chest pains.
  1. A collapsed lung may cause chest pain that radiates to the shoulder.
  1. Panic attacks can cause chest pain, and other symptoms similar to s heart attack.
  1. A hiatal hernia, when the stomach pushes up into the chest, can cause chest pain.
  1. Inflammation of the muscles and tendons around the ribs can result in persistent chest pain.
  1. Injuries to your ribs can cause chest pain, pain when breathing and a sensation of unusual movement in the chest. 

Is there a link between gut health and chest pain?

It might not seem logical to think that what happens in your gut can influence what you feel in your chest. But, quite a number of gastrointestinal issues have been found to cause chest pain:

  • Pancreatitis causes a swollen or tender abdomen, as well as pain above the abdomen. The pain sometimes radiates to the back.
  • Spasms or contractions in your esophagus can cause chest pain and heartburn.
  • Esophageal sensitivity is a condition in which non-painful stimuli in the esophagus are perceived as painful.
  • An esophageal rupture, when the esophagus bursts, can cause sudden, intense, chest pain.
  • Peptic ulcers are sores in the stomach lining that can cause you pain in the abdomen and upper abdomen.
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a common condition that can lead to chest pain.

Sometimes, chest pain that feels rather excruciating, is simply gas trapped in your chest. 

Gas pain can be brought on by food intolerances, indigestion, or other health conditions. It is usually felt in the abdomen, but can definitely occur in the chest as well.

While uncomfortable, gas pain on occasion, when not paired with other symptoms, is usually not dangerous, and should pass after a short period of time.

With gas pain, you can also experience the following symptoms: 

  • Belching
  • Indigestion
  • Passing of excess gas which may help with the pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Pain shifting to different parts of the abdomen

What about constipation? Could the chest pain that is bothering you be connected to constipation? The answer is yes, absolutely.

Constipation occurs when stool becomes hard, making it difficult to pass, resulting in infrequent and uncomfortable bowel movements. 

Chest pain occurs as a result of gas and pressure build up in the gastro-intestinal tract. The pressure moves up to the chest area, causing pain and discomfort.

When gas builds up in the abdomen, you can feel a sharp, stabbing pain in your abdomen, as well as your chest. 

Pain from excess gas can manifest as a sharp pain on the left side of the chest, along with tightness and discomfort in that region.

Constipation may also trigger acid reflux which in turn causes heartburn which is often mistaken for chest pain.

Interestingly, constipation has also been linked to actual heart pain. 

Changes to the microorganisms in your gut, as with constipation, can induce heart-related conditions like atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues.

As you get older you are more likely to suffer from constipation, and along with that your risk of heart problems also increase.

Chest pain: when to get help

Is not only a worrying condition, it also becomes incredibly confusing once you realise that many other conditions can actually mimic a heart attack.

As a very general guideline, consider seeking the assistance of a medical professional if you experience the following

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, burning, tightness, or pain in the center of the chest
  • Pain, numbness, pinching, prickling, or other uncomfortable sensations in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Heat/flushing or a cold sweat
  • Sudden heaviness, weakness, or aching in one or both arms
Constipation relief

Constipation: when to get help

Almost anyone can on occasion, suffer from a bout of constipation, and usually it’s not serious. It can, however, in some cases be indicative of a more serious underlying condition.

See a doctor if your constipation is accompanied by any of these: 

  • Blood in your stool or bleeding from your rectum.
  • Severe stomach ache and an inability to pass gas.
  • Vomiting or fever.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lower back pain.
  • No relief despite upping your fibre intake and trying some gentle exercise.

Bottom line

Chest pain has many potential causes and is often not a cause for alarm. 

While chest pain can be caused by constipation, don’t just assume constipation is the culprit if you are suffering from both symptoms simultaneously.

When it comes to chest pain, have it checked out. No one can blame you for being a little paranoid about your heart.

Karien

Karien

Hi, my name is Karien Nel and today I’m 37kg lighter than the day I started my weight loss journey with CSN Diet.

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