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What is the Connection Between Asthma and Chest Pain?

Eric Stolze
Eric Stolze

Asthma and chest pain are connected in some cases because chest pain and chest tightness are some of the known symptoms of asthma. The condition of asthma is an inflammatory disorder in a person’s airways and may cause other symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. An occurrence of chest pain is a possible sign of asthma, but chest pain can also develop from a variety of other causes besides asthma.

Individuals with asthma and chest pain may notice other asthma symptoms such as a pulling inward of skin between the ribs during breathing. Wheezing with asthma and chest pain can be intermittent, may get worse in the morning and during the night and may come on suddenly. Some individuals with asthma and chest pain have also noticed that their wheezing can get worse with heartburn, when breathing in cold air and with physical exercise. Emergency symptoms that may develop during an asthma attack can include extreme breathing problems and a bluish color on the lips and face, as well as sweating, a rapid pulse and decreased alertness levels.

An asthma inhaler.
An asthma inhaler.

People with asthma tend to develop severe bouts of asthma symptoms, or asthma attacks, from triggers such as dust, animal hair and weather changes. Mold, pollen and tobacco smoke may also prompt an asthma attack. Chemicals in the air or in a person’s food as well as exercise and emotional stress can trigger attacks of asthma. Some people have a family history of asthma that may contribute to their development of this medical condition.

An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
An illustration of the pathology of asthma.

The treatment of asthma typically involves two types of medications—quick relief medications to reduce the symptoms of an asthma attack and long-acting drugs to prevent the development of future asthma attacks. Patients may use short-acting bronchodilator drugs that are inhaled or corticosteroids that are injected intravenously for quick relief of an asthma attack. Long-term asthma medications include inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene inhibitors or long-acting bronchodilators. Peak flow meters are devices that patients can use to monitor their breathing and identify some of the signs of an asthma attack.

Chest pain is often a symptom of asthma.
Chest pain is often a symptom of asthma.

Asthma and chest pain may be linked in some cases, but chest pain can also develop from a variety of other causes besides asthma. Heart problems such as angina, pericarditis and heart attacks can cause chest pain. Lung disorders such as pneumonia, a pulmonary embolism or pleurisy may also result in pain in a person's chest. Digestive problems including heartburn, esophageal spasms and pancreatitis may also result the occurrence of chest pain. Other possible causes of chest pain can include anxiety, shingles and muscle inflammation near the ribs.

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    • An asthma inhaler.
      By: alctxphoto
      An asthma inhaler.
    • An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
      By: Alila
      An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
    • Chest pain is often a symptom of asthma.
      By: nebari
      Chest pain is often a symptom of asthma.