Right Side Chest Pain: A Symptom to be Taken Seriously
The occurrence of right side chest pain can be uncomfortable and a little worrying, but for most individuals this condition is shrugged off. The heart is on the left side, so I can’t be having a heart attack. It’s probably not a big deal. Unfortunately, pain of the chest should always be taken seriously, even if heart issues can be ruled out. There are a number of conditions that can contribute to right side chest pain and in most cases these conditions can become quite serious—sometimes even life-threatening—if they are left untreated. Below is a list of some of the most likely causes of right side chest pain as well as a description of symptoms, causes, and treatments for each.
Angina is a symptom that arises whenever the heart fails to receive sufficient blood flow. Although angina can be associated with a heart attack, either one soon to occur or already in motion, this symptom is not limited to the left side of the chest. The main symptom of angina is general discomfort or pain in the chest. Many compare the pressure and squeezing sensation as being similar to a vice, with fullness and tension emanating from the center, left, or right part of the chest. The chest may also feel heavy, as if one were lying down with weights placed upon his/her chest. Other symptoms that have been associated with angina include feelings of anxiousness, dizziness, loss of energy, upset stomach or nausea, and pain the neck, shoulder, back, and/or jaw on the side of the body from which the pain is centered. Angina may not always be obvious. In fact, it is sometimes mistaken as indigestion or heartburn. In most cases the symptom(s) are short-lived and occur most when the heart works harder than usual, such as during exercise.
The primary suspect when it comes to determining the cause of angina is usually coronary artery disease, which involves blockage within one or more of the primary arteries leading to the heart. The cause for arterial blockage is a substance called plaque, which is a buildup of fatty deposits that can attach to the walls of an artery where they continue to build up over time. Eventually the heart begins to suffer from serious oxygen deprivation due to it receiving diminished blood flow and the symptoms of angina start to arise.
Pneumonia is another possible cause of right side chest pain. This is a condition that most of us are familiar with, even if we have never actually experienced it. Pneumonia is defined as inflammation of the lungs that is triggered by a nearby infection, and it can range in severity from mild to outright life-threatening. Pneumonia is often diagnosed in conjunction with an infection; however some cases of pneumonia go undiagnosed until the symptoms become much more prominent. The symptoms of pneumonia are almost interchangeable with a chest infection, such as fever, difficulty breathing, chills, headache, muscle aches, a persistent cough, and loss of energy.
The most common cause of pneumonia is bacterial infection. Luckily enough, bacterial infections usually respond very well to antibiotic medicine. As the antibiotics are taken, the infection diminishes and so do the symptoms of pneumonia. If a fungal infection is at work then the likely treatment would be an anti-fungal medication. In the case of a viral infection, unfortunately there is no cure for viruses—they must simply run their course. Once the viral infection is over, the symptoms of pneumonia usually ease up and go away, but there is always a risk that the viral infection may leave the body open to bacterial infection. In most cases, even when viral influenza is the suspected cause, doctors will prescribe an antibiotic to treat or prevent any possible underlying secondary infection.
Right side chest pain can also be a sign of asthma. Asthma is a condition in which the airways of the lungs become inflamed. During an asthma attack, the muscles surrounding the many air passages within the lungs begin to tense up which constricts the airways. This makes it difficult for air to pass through the channels and into the lungs. The symptoms that arise with asthma include unproductive coughing, shortness of breath that may be accompanied by wheezing, pain and/or tightness of the chest, and abnormal breathing pattern.
Asthma is a condition that can be inherited through a family history of the illness or it can be developed as a result of allergies to certain triggers. Such triggers include tobacco smoke, pollen, mold, pet dander, animal hair, chemicals, and dust. Non-allergic triggers for asthma can be changes in the weather (typically colder temperatures), emotional stress, and physical exercise.
Asthma can be managed with the use of drugs that prevent the airways from swelling and also by the avoidance of known triggers. This method of treatment is efficient enough that individuals with mild asthma may rarely experience an attack. When an asthma attack does occur, there are emergency measures that can be taken to bring the attack under control. A steroid inhaler or a beta-antagonist inhaler would be used for this purpose as they are quick to work and very reliable.