Shortness of Breath and Tightness in Chest: All Possible Causes

Shortness of Breath and Tightness in Chest: All Possible Causes

The feeling of pressure in the chest combined with shortness of breath is a very common symptomatology. As it is nothing specific, there are many conditions that can present these two symptoms at a time, making it very difficult to detect what condition you may have without the corresponding medical evaluation.

In most cases it is simply one of the first symptoms of anxiety or indigestion, however, there are other more dangerous diseases that can hide behind these symptoms and should not be overlooked.

In this oneHOWTO article you will find the answer to the possible causes of shortness of breath and tightness in chest by covering all the reasons why you may be feeling this sensation.

Shortness of breath and tightness in chest due to heart problems

As you probably know, chest pain and tightness along with shortness of breath are two of the main symptoms of heart attack along with dizziness, pain in the arm or jaw. However, this does not mean that every time you feel this you are suffering a heart attack, in fact, it may have nothing to do with the circulatory system. On the other hand, in addition to infarction, there are a number of heart problems that may manifest these same symptoms. Here are some of the most common:

  • Aortic dissection: When the aortic wall is torn, the person suffers a very sharp pain in the chest accompanied by severe pain in the back and difficulty in breathing. This condition is considered a medical emergency of first order, because even if treated properly it can cause death in a very short time.
  • Arterial blockage: If you have blocked arteries due to plaque buildup and cholesterol, this chest pressure with a shortness of breath sensation may appear. This condition is called recurrent angina and should be treated properly, as the risk of a heart attack is very high.
  • Pericarditis: It is the infiltration of the membrane lining the heart, usually by a viral or bacterial infection.
Shortness of Breath and Tightness in Chest: All Possible Causes - Shortness of breath and tightness in chest due to heart problems

Tightness in chest and shortness of breath due to breathing problems

Obviously, breathing problems can also lead to symptoms such as chest pain or tightness and difficulty breathing. However, within this group of diseases and pathologies we find very significant differences, both in nature and severity:

  • Pleurisy: This occurs when the membrane that covers the lungs is inflamed. It is a condition that causes great pain in the chest, the thoracic area, while it is difficult to breathe and, during these symptoms you will also hear a whistling sound.
  • Asthma: It is a fairly common condition characterized by inflammation of the bronchi under certain circumstances. Chest pressure and shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms, the rest you can read in our article on how to tell if you have asthma.
  • Pulmonary embolism: It is caused by a blood clot that prevents the passage of blood into the lungs can cause the same symptomatology.
  • COPD: It is the acronym for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a condition that mainly affects smokers. It is characterized by pectoral pressure and the sensation of suffocation.
  • Pneumonia: As well as other infections, whether viral or bacterial, that affect the respiratory tract and make it difficult to breathe properly can result in the same symptoms.
Shortness of Breath and Tightness in Chest: All Possible Causes - Tightness in chest and shortness of breath due to breathing problems

Difficulty breathing due to anxiety

Anxiety is nothing more than the anticipation of danger or fear. This fear, which is most often imaginary, leads to a reaction of the body preparing to be able to fight it. This way, it speeds up your breath, which can lead to hyperventilation, you may experience a feeling of choking and feel you can not breathe, chest tightness is another of the recurring symptoms as well as sweating or dizziness. It is very common for people with anxiety to have a feeling of emptiness in the chest.

The symptoms of a panic attack can be confused with a heart attack, something that only increases anxiety and its symptoms, creating a circle of which, only with relaxation techniques and control of breathing, it can come out.

Other reasons for shortness of breath

In addition to breathing problems, anxiety and cardiac pathologies, there are a many other conditions of a very different nature that can cause similar symptoms. Here are some of the most common:

  • Trauma and injuries in the chest area.
  • Injuries to the muscles, nerves, or tendons of the chest.
  • Very intense exercise and physical tension can also cause pressure on the chest and the feeling of not being able to breathe.
  • Allergic reactions, especially those with a respiratory origin, can lead to the appearance of these symptoms.
  • There are certain digestive problems among which we find heartburn, ulcers or gallbladder issues that produce oppression and lack of air.
  • If it is transient and after eating, it is most likely due to indigestion from eating too much fat or too much.
Shortness of Breath and Tightness in Chest: All Possible Causes - Other reasons for shortness of breath

Symptoms associated with chest heaviness and shortness of breath

It can be very difficult for someone without medical knowledge to know if these symptoms are caused by simple indigestion or a heart attack, which is why treatment can be delayed and the patient's health become worse. That is why you should know in which cases you should go to the doctor. Here are some of the symptoms that can be associated with the conditions that we mentioned before, so that, if you notice any of them, you can go to the hospital quickly:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Your skin turns blue or pale
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Sweating excessively
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Pain radiates to the jaw, arm or shoulder blades
  • Bad cough
  • Headache
  • Fever, tremors and chills
  • Fainting

There are also a number of things to keep in mind:

  • Notice if the pain gets worse or relieves over time
  • If pain increases when coughing, crouching or eating
  • If it has started suddenly or has been progressive
  • If it has appeared after exercise or while resting
  • If the pressure is very intense or moderate
  • If relieved by taking anti-inflammatories.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Shortness of Breath and Tightness in Chest: All Possible Causes, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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1 comment
Claudette Olivieri
short of breath, heavy chest, stomach hurts - at times dizziness, shaking inside, nausea & headache ( at times pain in chest but mostly shortness of breath etc.)
question - is it a good thing to take Nitro as I tried this morning - it helped after the second spray , half an hour after. only started Nitro today = first time. - took it this morning for shortness of breath etc.
Waiting to go for a test - unknown what kind.
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