Left Side Chest Pain - Possible Causes and Best Relief Tips
If you happen to experience left side chest pain, what comes into your mind? Many link this pain to a heart attack but the fact is, left side chest pain is not always connected to a heart attack. Several other different factors can also contribute to it. Usually, this pain originates from one part and radiates to the neck or upper abdomen depending on the cause. Secondly, the pain can be dull, sharp, aching, burning, stabbing-like, chest tightening, squeezing, or can feel like a crushing sensation. Anyone of the following causes might cause this pain.
Main Possible Causes of Left Side Chest Pain
Any time you experience left side chest pain, make sure you contact your local emergency department or visit the nearest hospital for a checkup immediately. Below are some possible causes of left-sided chest pain.
1. Heart-related Causes
Angina is a symptom and not a disease. It is caused by coronary heart disease which results in blockage of coronary blood vessels. Due to that blockage, heart muscles are deprived of enough oxygen which leads to pain, although angina does not cause permanent damage to those muscles. Angina pain can radiate to the shoulder, arms, neck, jaw or the back.
Treatment: When you get to a doctor, they might prescribe medications like ACE – inhibitors, aspirin or beta-blockers. Additionally, cardiac procedures or lifestyle changes are incorporated to help treat angina.
A human heart is protected by a thin sac-like layer filled with a fluid. This layer is called pericardium. When this membrane layer gets infected by some diseases or any disorder occurs, it gets inflamed. This inflammation results in a condition called pericarditis with symptoms like: sharp or stabbing left side chest pain; shoulder pain; intense pain feeling after taking deep breaths or when lying down on the back; feverish, breath shortness, sweaty or light-headed feeling.
Treatment: Regarding pericarditis treatments, a doctor can prescribe over-the-counter (OTCs) anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. If the pain persists, you can use steroids. Hospital monitoring is strongly encouraged if the condition is unresponsive to medications.
- Heart attack
A heart attack occurs after heart muscle cells die off due to lack of oxygen. Such cells die in cases where heart muscles do not receive enough oxygen due to blood vessel blockage. A heart attack can start in the form of a mild left chest pain which builds slowly, or could also be a sudden intense pain. Heart attack symptoms are: dizziness; breath shortness, squeezing, tightening or crushing chest pressure; shooting pain in the neck, back, stomach, arms or jaws; nausea, heartburn or vomiting.
Treatment: When a heart attack happens, any lost second draws a victim away from full recovery potential. Immediate medical attention is needed although afterwards lifestyle changes, exercising, a heart-healthy diet, and weight management should be looked at.
2. Other Causes of Left Side Chest Pain
Heartburn occurs when digestive acids move up into the esophagus (acid reflux). Sometimes, heartburn happens immediately after eating, sometimes a few hours later as digestion takes place. Heartburn symptoms are: chest pain on the left side or pain under the breast; food pipe/throat burning sensation; mouth bitterness.
Treatment: One self-help treatment for heartburn is not overeating. Other recommendations include always using a pillow while sleeping to avoid reflux acid flow and not sleeping immediately after eating. Additionally, a doctor can prescribe some OTC medication like antacids.
Lungs are protected by a membrane layer called pleura. Pleurisy occurs when a virus or bacteria causes infection to this pleura membrane, and it becomes inflamed. This inflammation cause pain on the chest left-hand side. Additionally, pleurisy is intensified if lung cancer or rheumatoid arthritis diseases are present. Other pleurisy symptoms are shoulder pains, breath shortness, and dry cough.
Treatment: Pleurisy treatment by use of NSAIDs as prescribed to relieve pain. Lying down on the pain affected side eases the pain and helps the treatment of the causing infection.
- Panic attack
Panic attacks or anxiety can cause chest pains similar to those of a heart attack. A panic attack causes blood pressure to rise which results in hyperventilation. A panic attack can lead to chest pain on the left side or can cause myocardial ischemia.
Treatment: Because panic attacks or disorders are more of a mental issue, your doctor can recommend you see a psychotherapist, use stress management techniques, avoid stimulants like caffeine, recreational drugs, tobacco, alcohol and get enough sleep.
Best Home Remedies to Relieve Left Side Chest Pain
In case you experience frequent chest pains caused by muscle strain or related to digestive issues, below are home remedies you can try. But make sure you consult your doctor first to understand what the real cause of the pain is.
In case you are suffering from chest pain due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux, almonds can help. Almonds are beneficial because they are alkaline and thus can soothe or neutralize the acidic imbalance. Although almond use is not scientifically proven, anecdotal evidence says taking some countable almonds or almond milk is helpful.
2. Cold pack
Muscle strain which happens after carrying heavy loads, or chest inflammations called costochondritis can be reduced by use of a cold pack. Placing a cold pack on the chest reduces inflammation thus easing the pain.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is used to treat or prevent acid reflux. If acid reflux is the cause of pain in the left side of the chest, you might want to try this proven home remedy - ACV.
Garlic can be chewed raw, mixed with cloves, or mince some garlic and add it to warm milk. It helps avoid chest pain by reversing heart disease effects and reducing plaque buildup on blood vessels. Plaque reduces blood flow within arteries which results in less oxygen supply into the heart muscles.
Pain in the left side chest is not something to ignore. The sooner you are diagnosed by a doctor, the more chances you have for a full recovery. Even though home remedies are useful, make sure you follow your doctor's advice in conjunction with the above reference guideline.