Chest Pain & Asthma

 

 

Asthma is a lung condition that causes difficulty in breathing. It affects the lungs and bronchioles and narrows the airways. Also, it can lead to chest pain, difficulty sleeping, dullness during the day, etc.

Asthma is affecting people of all ages. In some cases, it is mild or moderate, but in others, it can be severe and may lead to death. People with asthma must have an organized lifestyle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Otherwise, it will create a hassle in 24 hours of your life.

1.   Asthma and chest pain:

If you have asthma, you may have chest pain. It is expected just before or during an asthma attack. It can cause discomfort, and the pain may be dull or sharp, stabbing pain. Sometimes it is said that patients feel like a heavy brick has been put up on their hearts.

Chest pain is not unusual in asthma patients. It could be a sign of another condition. Continue reading to know the causes of it, how to treat it and when to search for help.

How common is chest pain in people with asthma?

Chest pain or tightness is common in patients who have asthma. In an emergency department survey, 76 per cent of patients reported chest pain.

Chest pain: Subjective Symptom

Chest pain is also known as a subjective symptom. An emotional symptom can be defined as one that doctors cannot measure. But they must rely on pain description.

The symptom is commonly one of those someone experiences in asthma. A study published in 2013 suggested that the only sign in some asthma patients is chest tightness. 

Asthma and the immune system

If you are an asthma patient, your airways can be inflamed and swollen by the immune system when you face certain irritants. This may lead to chest pain, pressure, or tightness.

Chest pain and non-respiratory symptoms

Studies have observed that chest pain can be felt along with other non-respiratory symptoms just before or during an asthma attack. If you feel chest pain just after the asthma attack, you might face soreness from coughing, deep breathing, or other symptoms you went through.

Deep breathing and coughing may cause chest pain to worsen in people with asthma.

Treating asthma chest pain

Before starting your treatment, your doctor may ensure that your chest pain is because of asthma and not any other reason.

Your doctor may give you an individualized treatment plan if you are facing chest pain because of asthma. Following their instructions carefully may lessen the chances of developing symptoms.

Emergency or rescue inhaler

If you are an asthma patient and have an asthma attack at any time, you may be told to use an emergency or rescue inhaler to relax your airways and improve your symptoms.

A study said that using inhaled albuterol gave results of improvement in 70 per cent of children who have asthma. It was also found helpful in asthma-induced chest pain in adolescents who performed exercise on a treadmill.

Prevention

The best way to prevent chest pain caused by asthma is to follow the treatment plan provided by your doctor. Try hard not to miss any single dose of medicine, and avoid potential asthma triggers as much as possible.

Outlook

Although chest pain is a common symptom of asthma, sometimes it may be a sign that is indicating something else. Let your doctor know immediately if you suffer from chest pain so that the reason can be diagnosed with accuracy. If this unwanted symptom is diagnosed correctly, it can easily be controlled with effective treatment.

2.   Other possible causes of chest pain 

Asthma is not the only reason for chest pain. Several other possibilities and conditions can cause this symptom.

Such as:

a.    Heart problem

Serious heart issues can be evidence of pain in the chest area, including:

  • A heart attackhappens when a clot blocks blood flow to the heart.
  • Anginais a condition in which plaques or fatty deposits contract the arteries, and your heart blood supply is restricted.
  • Aortic dissectionis a condition in which the main artery of your heart ruptures.
  • Pericarditis: It is an inflammation around the sac which surrounds your heart.

b.    Digestive issues

A common issue known as the culprit for burning and painful sensations in the chest is heartburn. Many people confuse heartburn with chest pain. People with digestive problems, such as gallstones, GERD, stomach ulcers and swallowing disorders, may have heartburn but may confuse it with chest pain.

c.    Panic attack

Sometimes, chest pain or discomfort may signify a panic attack. It may also be felt that your heart is running and experiencing shortness of breath.

d.     Injuries

A bruised or broken rib caused by an accident can be the reason for chest pain.

e.     Sore muscles

Some pain syndromes, like fibromyalgia, may cause persistent sore muscles, which may lead to a condition that makes you feel like you have chest pain. Chest pain can also be experienced after weight lifting or doing exercise that involves your chest muscles.

f.      Costochondritis

In this condition, you may feel chest pain because the cartilage of your rib cage becomes inflamed and painful.

g.    Pulmonary embolism

It is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs get blocked due to blood clots, which may cause chest pain.

h.    Pulmonary hypertension

It is characterized by high blood pressure in the arteries responsible for carrying blood to the lungs, which can generate chest discomfort. 

i.       Collapsed lung

If air leaks in the area between your lungs and ribs, it can cause collapsing of your lung. Many people suffer from chest pain when they collapse.

j.       Pleurisy

It is a condition in which the membrane covering the lungs is inflamed, which may cause chest pain.

k.    Shingles

The shingles virus causes blisters that can extend to the surrounding area in your chest wall, which will lead to discomfort and pain.

Next steps

Many conditions cause chest pain and are considered serious and life-threatening. It would be best to search for emergency medical care when your chest pain does not go in a few minutes.

Conclusion

Asthma has become a common disease, affecting every age of people. It harms your lungs and disturbs other parts and systems of your body. The most common is chest pain caused by tightness and narrow airways because you have difficulty breathing. 

Perhaps, it has no 100 per cent cure, but by taking your medication on time and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can minimize asthma attacks.

FAQs

Can asthma damage your lungs?

Asthma can cause the inside walls of the airways to get inflamed and swollen. It also causes the membranes in the lining of the airways to secrete excess mucus which can permanently damage your lungs.

Does asthma worsen with age?

As you get older, the immune system becomes weak, and its response to inflammation also becomes sensitive, making it harder to fight infections that trigger asthma. That’s why asthma can get worse as you are older.

What happens if asthma is left untreated?

If you leave asthma untreated, it may lead to lung scarring and loss of the surface layer of the lungs. The tubes of the lungs become thicker which causes less air to pass. The airway muscles become enlarged and cannot relax. This can damage the lungs permanently.

Do inhalers damage the lungs?

The new study suggests that inhalers increase the risk of lung infections caused by non-tuberculous mycobacteria, which are difficult to treat and resistant to several common antibiotics.

What organs are affected by asthma?

The organ system that is damaged by asthma is the lungs. Lungs consist of lobes and segments, with the right lung having ten segments and eight or nine in the left, depending on the lobe division. During asthma, the inside walls of the airways become inflamed and cause difficulty in breathing.

What is the effect of asthma on the heart?

According to new research, people having asthma also have a double risk of a cardiovascular event like heart attack, stroke, or related condition, and if you take medicine daily, it may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by 60 per cent over 10 years. So an inhaler can both rescue and endanger the life of a patient.

References:

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  2. Diaz, R., & Heller, D. (2022). Barotrauma And Mechanical Ventilation. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  3. Galli, S. J., Tsai, M., & Piliponsky, A. M. (2008). The development of allergic inflammation. Nature454(7203), 445–454.
  4. Bongomin, F., Gago, S., Oladele, R. O., & Denning, D. W. (2017). Global and Multi-National Prevalence of Fungal Diseases-Estimate Precision. Journal of fungi (Basel, Switzerland)3(4), 57.
  5. Khateeb, J., Fuchs, E., & Khamaisi, M. (2019). Diabetes and Lung Disease: A Neglected Relationship. The review of diabetic studies: RDS15, 1–15.

 

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