Sometimes, you may experience chest discomfort and nausea, accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, abdominal pain, or coughing, without knowing the underlying cause. Follow this article to explore common reasons behind this condition and effective ways to prevent and manage it based on each specific cause.
Causes of chest discomfort and nausea, along with specific prevention and treatment
This condition is sometimes not indicative of a serious ailment and does not pose immediate danger. However, in certain instances, distinctive medical conditions can also lead to prolonged, similar symptoms. Therefore, it’s important not to overlook recurring chest discomfort, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Causes from psychological and lifestyle habits
Common causes of chest discomfort, nausea, and shortness of breath often stem from psychological factors and daily lifestyle habits, including:
- Stress and anxiety: Excessive stress from work, study, or exams can lead to breathlessness, nausea, and chest discomfort upon waking up or frequently throughout the day. This can also occur in cases of individuals with neurofunctional disorders or congenital heart disease. To prevent such conditions, maintaining a relaxed mood and avoiding high-intensity activities is crucial to guard against sudden pain.
- Unhealthy habits: Late-night meals, irregular eating patterns, excessive consumption of fast food, stimulant drinks, smoking, etc., can contribute to ailments like dyslipidemia, pneumonia, heart failure, liver diseases, diabetes, and may lead to the aforementioned symptoms. To effectively prevent and treat these conditions, dietary changes are necessary to safeguard one’s health.
Several respiratory and lung-related issues can also cause patients to experience difficulty breathing, chest discomfort, and nausea, such as:
- Airway obstruction: Occurs when foreign objects enter the airway, causing the patient to experience chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, coughing, and weakness. Prompt first aid is required to dislodge the foreign object. Airway obstructions can be life-threatening, underscoring the importance of caution.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a clinical condition involving damage to lung tissues (alveoli, interstitium, and distal bronchioles), for instance, the lungs, often affecting the air sacs. Pneumonia is commonly caused by infections from various agents like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, or less frequently, by parasitic infections. Additionally, pneumonia can also be caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.
- Bronchitis: Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial mucous membrane due to infection. Bronchi are the tubes through which air passes. Individuals with bronchitis often cough up thick, discolored sputum. Sometimes, patients experience chest discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
- Bronchial spasms: This is a condition where the bronchial tubes become inflamed and swollen, temporarily narrowing due to edema. If the bronchial mucosa is affected by harmful agents, inflammation will occur and persist in the bronchial areas, causing breathing difficulties, nausea, or a burning sensation.
Due to cardiovascular and blood-related pathologies
Due to cardiovascular and blood-related pathologies, the following issues can also cause symptoms such as chest discomfort and nausea:
- Dyslipidemia: Dyslipidemia is a condition that can affect anyone, not just those who are overweight or obese. It often manifests as chest pain, shortness of breath, and can potentially lead to myocardial infarction. If you experience recurring chest pain lasting from 10 to 15 minutes each time, it is crucial to consult a physician promptly for the fastest treatment.
- Anemia: When the heart fails to pump enough blood to nourish the body, it can lead to chest discomfort and difficulty breathing. Anemia can be caused by sudden cessation of high-intensity activity, dietary restrictions, or genetic factors. If you experience this condition, it’s advisable to lie down or sit for a while to control your heart rate and alleviate the pain.
- Narrowing of blood vessels: Symptoms that may occur when the heart is blocked typically include fatigue, coughing, palpitations, and irregular heartbeats. This condition is often caused by blood glucose-related issues.
- Myocardial infarction: This is a life-threatening condition where the sudden blockage of blood supply to the heart causes complete cessation of blood flow, leading to severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, or fatigue.
- Myocarditis: This is the acute or chronic inflammation of the heart muscle, where inflammatory cells appear simultaneously with myocardial necrosis in the same myocardial unit. Myocarditis can present with various symptoms and signs, from moderate shortness of breath and non-progressive chest pain with specific treatment, to cardiac shock and death. It also leads to heart failure with persistent myocardial weakness.
- Coronary artery disease: Coronary artery disease occurs when one or more branches of the coronary artery are found or blocked due to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques inside. Our body’s arteries, initially soft and elastic, gradually narrow and stiffen over time due to plaque buildup, such as cholesterol and other components within the arterial wall known as atherosclerosis. As coronary artery disease progresses, blood flow through the arteries becomes increasingly challenging. As a result, the heart cannot receive an adequate amount of necessary blood and oxygen, leading to angina, shortness of breath, or myocardial infarction.
- Mitral valve prolapse: Mitral valve prolapse is a condition where the mitral valve bulges back into the left atrium. Sometimes, mitral valve prolapse can lead to blood leaking back into the left atrium, resulting in regurgitation of the mitral valve. In most cases, mitral valve prolapse is not life-threatening and does not require treatment.
Digestive issues causing chest discomfort and nausea
Some gastrointestinal diseases that can cause these symptoms include:
- Gallstones: Gallstones formed in the gallbladder or bile ducts can present symptoms such as right upper abdominal pain and indigestion accompanied by nausea and shortness of breath. The condition often causes discomfort and chest distress after meals or at night, leading to sleep disturbances. Gallstones can lead to various dangerous complications if the condition persists, such as cholecystitis, biliary obstruction, gallbladder cancer, making early detection and treatment vital for patients.
- Acid reflux: Common symptoms of acid reflux include chest pain and burning sensation. This often occurs after dinner or nighttime, exacerbated when lying down or bending over.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Stomach acid regurgitation typically causes prolonged discomfort and distress, often accompanied by nighttime chest discomfort and nausea. GERD can be both physiological, affecting physical development, and a more serious digestive pathology, potentially leading to mortality.
- Cholecystitis: Cholecystitis is an infection of the gallbladder, including both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to dangerous complications for the patient. Acute cholecystitis is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention for the best possible treatment.
- Food poisoning: Severe symptoms of food poisoning may appear within minutes, hours, or 1-2 days after food consumption. Severe food poisoning can lead to fatalities, while mild poisoning can cause fatigue, physical, and mental exhaustion for the patient. Common symptoms often include chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. Sometimes, food poisoning can also result in chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, and dizziness.
Notes on treating chest discomfort and nausea
The first step in treating these symptoms is to undergo a thorough examination to determine the underlying causes. Depending on the specific condition, different treatments and medications will be prescribed for the patients.
Apart from medication-based treatment and other therapeutic approaches, an effective solution for this condition involves adopting a healthy lifestyle, including:
- Adhering to a healthy lifestyle by cultivating a positive mindset, minimizing excessive worrying, taking regular breaks, and relaxing after prolonged periods of work.
- Avoiding frequent consumption of stimulants such as alcohol, beer, cigarettes, and strong tea.
- Not skipping breakfast.
- Engaging in regular physical exercise at least three times a week, for 30 to 40 minutes each session, to improve overall health and alleviate symptoms of breathlessness, chest discomfort, and fatigue. However, it is advisable to avoid strenuous and competitive exercises. Sports activities recommended by experts include walking, yoga, swimming, etc.
- Undergoing comprehensive health check-ups every three months to monitor the overall health status and detect any potential illnesses early.
The above points highlight the common underlying causes of chest discomfort, nausea, and shortness of breath, along with specific management and treatment methods tailored to each cause. It is crucial to seek comprehensive medical examinations when these symptoms frequently occur and affect your quality of life.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.