The specific causes of chest pain are difficult to interpret, and people usually assume that any chest pain will lead to a heart attack. Sharp stabbing chest pains are indicative of many conditions that are not necessarily cardiac-related. The conditions usually associated with sharp chest pain are pericarditis, precordial catch syndrome (PCS), and pneumothorax.
Pericarditis is the irritation or swelling of the thin membrane that surrounds the heart. Aside from chest pains, this condition also causes other symptoms like low fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, abdominal swelling, and dry cough. The most common symptom, however, is a stabbing pain on the left side of the chest that sometimes travels to the shoulder and neck. Pericarditis is caused by viruses like adenovirus and coxsackievirus, as well as parasites, bacteria, and fungi.
The disease is diagnosed either by a chest X-Ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Treatment for pericarditis depends on its cause and the severity. Some people with a mild form of the disease get better without treatment, but severe cases require hospitalization and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Percordial Catch Syndrome (PCS)
Precordial Catch Syndrome is a common cause of recurring chest pain among children and teenagers. The pain is localized on the left side of the chest and can suddenly, whether while exercising or resting. Doctors remain uncertain as to the precise cause of PCS, but they are sure that the condition is not at all dangerous. The only real concern is that what seems like PCS could actually turn out to be a more serious condition. If the chest pain is accompanied by cough, fever, blueness, irregular heartbeat, and difficulty breathing, consult a doctor immediately.
People who experience PCS need no treatment or medication. The condition does not normally interfere with everyday activity.
Pneumothorax is a more serious medical emergency that is caused by the sudden accumulation of air in the pleural cavity. It may result from lung trauma, pressure on the lungs, and other respiratory diseases like asthma and whooping cough. Treatment depends on the severity of the case and usually involves the reexpansion of the lungs by removing air from the plural cavity. Minor cases resolve themselves within a week or two; serious cases need a chest tube or needle aspiration. The chest tube treatment will require hospitalization since the lung’s reexpansion can take several days while the tube is held in place.
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