When a child complains of chest pain, the first thought is “Would it be heart issue?” usually the answer is no. Heart attacks are extremely rare in children; but there can be other reasons of chest pain like irritated chest muscles or inflammation of the heart lining. .
What you can do if the child complains of chest pain:
It is not unusual for parents to be worried when the child complains of chest pain; however it is unlikely that something is wrong with the heart. Sometimes deeper examination is required. But before going for tests or any further treatment consider the following:
- Was the childhurt recently?
Sometimes falling or being hit in the chest can cause chest pain. However, if the pain is persistent or the child is continuously coughing, consult a paediatrician.
- When does it hurt?
Does it hurt when the child is sleeping or sitting, or when the child is doing any vigorous activity? Chest pain that occurs while doing activities like running or exercising would require further investigation. If the pain occurs while watching television or sitting then it would be a non-cardiac case, but it is advisable to get it checked.
- Has it been hurting long?
If the pain has been continuing since several months or days then it cannot be serious as cardiac pains are hard to ignore. Non-cardiac pains also hurt but they just linger for a while and go away eventually. Speak to a paediatrician.
General causes of chest pains:
Usually,the most common cause of chest pain in children is because of pain in chest wall or musculoskeletal (irritated chest muscles) pain. There are various types:
Types of musculoskeletal pain:
- Costochondritis: This kind of pain is usually characterized as sharp pain in the upper two constochondral (rib) joints.It is worsened by deep breathing and lasts from a few seconds to 1-2 minutes.
- Tietze syndrome:The syndrome is swelling of costochondral or costosternal joints, usually in adolescents or young adults. The cause is unknown, but excessive coughing and infection in respiratory tract can be the reasons.
- Muscle strain: Kids active in gymnastics or any other sport can suffer from chest wall trauma, and it is the cause of chest pain in 2% children.
Other than musculoskeletal, there are other causes of chest pain which can be related to a prolonged illness or because of the kind of food that the child has. The causes are:
Bronchial asthma is a common cause ofchest pain. Aninfection of bronchial tubesor lung has been seen as another reason of acute chest pain; exercise induced asthma could be a cause too. .
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer, and oesophageal spasm are also some reasons that cause chest pain in kids. It has been observed that about 8% cases of chest pain in children are because of gastrointestinal problems. Children diagnosed with GERD are seen having a burning pain in the gastric area; and the pain is usually related to consumption of unhygienic/wrong food.
Chest pains are very normal in children, as the rate of cardiac problems in children is slim to none. However, you can never be sure and it is always advisable to consult a pediatrician or paediatric cardiologist.
Gunam Super Speciality Hospital-is one of the most comprehensive centres for child care in the entire region and provides excellent care in General Pediatric,