The burning sensation in the chest is generally localized in the central part of the chest, sometimes it can affect both the right and left side of the chest, or all its extension, and sometimes the sensation can extend to the neck, throat and back.
Furthermore, in classifying this disorder the burning in the chest can be of the somatic type, when it concerns the muscles, cartilages, tendons and bones of the thoracic cage or of the visceral type when it is instead reported by one or more organs that are located in the chest. .
This multitude of symptomsand in relation to the fact that the thorax hosts numerous organs, and by virtue of this, different pathological pictures can arise here, each of which can present its peculiarities.
We will see later how this symptom can be traced back to trivial causes such as anxiety states or simple heartburn ( heartburn ), or to causes of greater clinical relevance when they concern the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system or the onset of trauma and infections such as bronchitis .
Precisely because the chest hosts vital organs, such as the heart and lungs, the burning in the chesteasily generates a state of anxiety and worry in those who suffer from it, immediately evoking the possibility of a heart attack.
In reality, as we will see below, in most cases the burning sensation in the chest is linked to digestive disorders (heartburn) or to minor phenomena that should not cause concern. However, it is also true that experiencing a burning sensation in the chest , especially if accompanied by other symptoms and manifestations, could be linked to pathological events of a much more serious entity that may also be able to seriously endanger the patient’s life.
When to see a doctor
If burning in the chestit is limited to a slight and temporary tolerable sensation and is not associated with other symptoms, there is no need to worry, but it will still be useful to report the episode to the general practitioner. He will then indicate the need to carry out more in-depth analyzes.
In the event that the burning sensation in the chest is accompanied by other symptoms and manifestations such as excessive sweating , shortness of breath and tachypnea (rapid breathing), feeling of oppression in the chest, pale and cold skin, mental confusion and a feeling of numbness in the left arm , it is necessary to contact 118 immediately.
The presence of these concomitant symptoms could indicate the onset of a myocardial infarction, therefore the person should be immediately referred for medical attention. Hesitating, or worse, wasting time looking for remedies on the internet could seriously endanger an individual’s life.
What Causes Chest
Anxiety is a very common condition in people prone to periods of high stress. In these cases the subject, in a state of particular tension, contracts the muscles continuously, and this leads to an annoying sensation of tension, pain and burning in the chest .
These symptoms in turn in an anxious subject and very easy to feed the fear that it is a heart problem, further generating stress and amplifying the state of muscle contraction.
These episodes concern the musculoskeletal structures of the chest and the sensation reported by the patient and of somatic pain, therefore well localized in one point. The burning can easily join the sensation of intercostal pain in the occasion of a fracture of the rib, a muscle strain or even a costo-chondritis, ie an inflammation at the level of the cartilages that connect the ribs to the sternum.
The growth of the uterus in the abdominal area exerts pressure on the stomach. This condition favors the passage of gastric juices towards the esophagus, thus establishing esophagitis, a condition that typically manifests itself by burning the chest in the central area.
This set includes a multitude of ailments and diseases that are one of the major causes of heartburn and pain in the chest .
- Stomach acidity: a condition also known as heartburn, it is very common and should not cause particular anxiety if it occurs sporadically. In any case, it is always good to talk to your doctor.
In this pathology there is an increase in the production of gastric acids following a large meal or after the ingestion of particular foods such as tomatoes, chocolate, tea, coffee, citrus fruits, fatty and fried foods. This increase in acidic substances produced affects the esophagus leading to a state of inflammation (esophagitis) which manifests itself as a strong sense of burning and constriction in the chest ;
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: This is a chronic form of the previous disorder. In this case, in fact, due to a hernia or hyperproduction of gastric acids, there is a continuous state of inflammation of the esophagus. It is a disease that requires targeted treatments because there is a real risk that over time it can degenerate into tumors affecting the esophagus and stomach;
- Gastric ulcers which can also be caused by bacteria such as Helicobacter;
- Abdominal swelling due to accumulation of gas.
Respiratory system affections Respiratory system
affections easily give burning pain in the chest . The main cause of the disorder and to be reported to bronchitis , is a purely infectious disease (virus to which a bacterial over-infection is added), but in many cases the triggering factors are smoking or environmental pollution.
In both cases, phlegm is formed in the airways which will be expelled by the cough mechanism , an event that leads to a repeated contraction of the chest muscles and the forced emission of air through the upper airways, causing a sensation of burning and pain.
However, other causes of burning in the chest may be more serious in nature, as in the case of pulmonary embolism.
Herpes zoster infection
This is the pathogen that causes chickenpox, a disease that most people contract in childhood. Once the chickenpox has resolved, the Herpes zoster virus remains in a latent phase, settling at the level of the nerve ganglia, and when the subject is in a condition of low immune defenses the virus reactivates and can give rise to a manifestation such as the shingles.
This condition is characterized by the presence of red spots on the skin, frequently located on the chest or back, causing a strong burning sensation, pain and itching.
Problems with the cardiovascular
system This is undoubtedly the occurrence that generates the greatest fears. As previously mentioned, these are episodes that occur in a much lower percentage than the other causes. Among the pathological conditions of the heart and blood vessels that generate burning in the chest are angina pectoris (temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart), myocardial infarction, pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium, the membrane that covers the heart) and dissecting aneurysm of the aorta if they occur in the left side of the thorax.
What elements are useful for the diagnosis
When you feel a strong and persistent burning sensation in the chest , you need to talk to your GP, who will evaluate which tests are most appropriate for the individual case.
During the medical examination, an accurate medical history is carried out through which the doctor collects all the information relating to the symptoms perceived by the patient, therefore from how much the disorder occurs, when it arises, if the burning sensation continues or if it appears in certain moments.
Furthermore, it is very useful to assess whether the person concerned has additional symptoms or signs, if he suffers from particular pathologies or if these are present in his family history.
The physical examination allows the doctor to observe, palpate and auscultate the chest to look for skin signs, heart sounds, lung sounds or signs of trauma.
Following the information obtained, the doctor will be able to proceed by prescribing more in-depth analyzes on the basis of diagnostic suspicions, then blood analysis, chest x-ray in case of trauma or for suspected pathological diseases affecting the bronchi and lungs, gastroscopy to verify if at the basis of the symptom there is gastroesophageal reflux disease.
What are the most effective therapies
The therapies must act in a targeted manner on the pathology or disorder underlying the burning sensation in the chest, therefore they must be evaluated and prescribed exclusively by a doctor, after having read all the necessary diagnostic investigations.
The therapies will therefore adapt to the pathology that causes the disorder, therefore they may be of a pharmacological nature, as in the case of the proton pump inhibitors used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, of a surgical nature in the case of trauma to the chest or diseases cardiac or antibiotic-based in the case of respiratory tract infections.