What are the Most Common Causes of Chest Pain in Children?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Though most people think of pain in the chest as being heart-related, this is seldom the case with children. Much more likely causes of chest pain in children are asthma, respiratory infection or an injury. It can also be caused by gastrointestinal problems. Much like in adults, stress can also cause chest pain in children.

Children with asthma sometimes experience chest pain. The pain may occur most often with exercise or increased activity. Often, this kind of chest pain may be accompanied by coughing, wheezing and at times shortness of breath. Many children with asthma carry an inhaler which can quickly relieve these types of asthmatic symptoms. In most cases, asthma-induced chest pain will subside with rest or after the use of an inhaler.

A respiratory infection can also cause chest pain in children. Bronchitis is one type of respiratory infection that can cause this sort of pain. Commonly, bronchitis chest pain can result from taking a very deep breath or from extensive coughing. Similarly, children with pneumonia may experience light chest pain for these same reasons. In addition, children with different types of lung diseases may also experience this ailment.


Injury or damage to muscles or bones in the upper torso can cause chest pain in children. When children strain to lift something too heavy, it could overextend muscles and lead to chest pain. This may be done while taking part in various forms of physical activity, such as playing competitive sports. Costochondritis, a condition that occurs when cartilage between the breastbone and one or more ribs become inflamed, can be another common cause. A strain, direct chest injury or an infection can all lead to costochondritis.

Chest pain in children may be induced by gastrointestinal upsets. Heartburn is one condition that can fit in this category that may cause burning chest pain. Most people get heartburn when acids from the stomach start to flow in reverse toward the esophagus. In most cases, this will cause upper or center chest pain. Additionally, children with gallbladder issues may also experience chest pain, as gallbladder-related pain commonly radiates to the chest area.

Stress and chest pain are often closely related. Just like adults, children can also experience stress. The stress may be caused by issues relating to school, home life or personal relationships. Children are often not able to deal with stress as easily as adults and the overload of extensive worry can cause chest pain in a child just as it can in an adult.

Although it is not very common, children can experience chest pain due to an issue with the heart. For example, children with a congenital heart disease may suffer from chest pain. In the same manner, children who develop heart disease later in their young life can also suffer from this problem. If there is no clear cause of chest pain in a youngster, doctors will typically order different cardiovascular tests to rule out the heart as the main contributor of the problem. By taking these measures, any suspected problem can be treated promptly, however, in the average case chest pain in children is generally of a benign or non-threatening cause.



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