Tightness in the chest can occur for numerous reasons. Typically, many people suspect a heart attack but currently, during the coronavirus pandemic, a sudden tightness in the chest might make you wonder whether you’ve got the new coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is one of the most common symptoms of coronavirus. Prolonged discomfort in the chest is considered an emergency warning sign, therefore if you experience it, seek medical help as soon as possible. 

Although COVID-19 might be your first thought, there are lots of other health issues that can lead to pressure in the chest. Some of these conditions can be life-threatening, for instance, heart attack or pulmonary embolism. Therefore, it’s wise to turn to a doctor in any case. 

In order to understand whether your chest discomfort is an emergency, it is important to know certain health issues that oftentimes provoke tightness in the chest. Let’s have a look at seven possible causes of pressure in the chest: 

1. Anxiety 

Everyone has anxiety at some point in their lives and it’s normal. Given the current pandemic, it’s no wonder that almost everyone is experiencing somewhat of anxiety. Oftentimes, it can show up with physical symptoms like an increased heartbeat. However, if it turns into a panic attack, it can also provoke pain and tightness in the chest. 

A panic attack is a sudden episode of acute fear that typically occurs suddenly and causes severe physical reactions including pressure in the chest, severe sweating, trouble breathing, and trembling. Pressure in the chest in a panic attack is linked to shortness of breath which leads to hyperventilation. That is hyperventilation causes the sense if chest discomfort. In fact, this sense can so intense that it can make you think you’re experiencing a heart attack or COVID-19. 

If you can’t understand the cause of your chest discomfort, see the CDC’s website about symptoms of coronavirus here. If that information is not helpful for you, turn to your health care provider who will find the root cause. 

2. Coronavirus 

The new coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the whole world, so, it’s no wonder that it’s on everyone’s mind right now. However, it’s important to make sure that you know all the basics about coronavirus symptoms and signs as well as what to do if you suspect it. 

The Centers for Disease Control reports the most common symptoms of coronavirus:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath 

They usually show up two to 14 days after you’ve got coronavirus. However, many people experience different symptoms while somebody might not even have any symptoms. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who develop dangerous conditions related to coronavirus and require immediate hospitalization. 

3. A pulmonary embolism 

A pulmonary embolism is a condition in which something (usually, blood clot) blocks an artery in the lungs that is responsible for blood transportation. The symptoms can vary depending on the size of the clot. Tightness and pain in the chest are hallmarks of pulmonary embolism. The condition might actually kill parts of the lungs, making it harder than usual to breathe. Other symptoms of pulmonary embolism include heavy sweating, fever, bloody cough, swelling, and leg swelling. 

4. Acid reflux 

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), acid reflux also called gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a condition in which bitter acid from the stomach gets into the esophagus where it shouldn’t be. Specialists in gastroenterology report that if a person experiences, mild acid reflux at least twice a week, they might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the more intense form of this disorder. 

5. A heart attack 

Chest discomfort might indicate a heart attack. However, if you’re healthy, it’s more likely that your pressure in the chest is caused by something different. Other symptoms of a heart attack include pain in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulder, or back, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness.

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