Strange Chest Symptoms for a Month

Posted by tess0831 @tess0831, Apr 8 5:34pm

About a month ago now, I started getting a dull, constant pain that felt like it was behind my sternum. It was coming and going on a daily basis, and seemed to feel better when I would eat food, but then come back. Some background– I’m a 26 year old female, no underlying health issues, and while I do eat fast food or “junk food”, I mostly have a healthy diet. About a week after that pain started, it shifted into a pain that felt like it was moreso in my lungs, and I started to feel a dull pain sometimes when breathing in deeply. Again– comes and goes, but for the most part it’s a consistent annoying pain throughout the day (felt moreso with deep breaths). Since it turned into more of a “lung pain” (I use quotation marks because I’m not sure if it’s my lungs or just feels like my lungs– I’ve had no trouble breathing) it hasn’t seemed to improve when eating food as much as it did before. As of right now, it bothers me dully throughout the day, but I’m still getting the pain when breathing deeply, some days worse than others. Again, no trouble breathing or any other symptoms, and I’m sleeping well. What bothers me most is that it’s gone on this long (4 weeks now) which seems unusual, and with what’s going on now, I don’t want to go see a doctor unless absolutely necessary. A lot of what I’ve seen online tends to point to it having to do with acid reflux (which I do get sometimes based on what I eat)– but again, could that cause a constant chest issue for 4+ weeks now? It seemed to come on suddenly without any major diet change, which is what steers me away from that a bit. Thank you in advance for any and all input! And I do plan to see a doctor once the COVID-19 pandemic starts to slow down (hopefully), if it keeps persisting.

Hello,
Your symptoms need to be checked out by a doctor.
If you do not want to sit in a waiting room which is not advisable right now, you can have the front office call you while you sit in your car, a few minutes before your appointment.
Wear gloves, and a mask.
In the meantime have you tried over the counter acid reducers?
Good Luck

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I don't understand what you are saying?? A vaginal and anal prolapse has nothing to so with an acid reducer… You must have accidentally replied to the wrong post

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Hi @tess0831 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. It's a tough choice to make right now, whether to go to see a doctor or wait. I might suggest, like @funcountess, that you call your doctor and find out if they are offer telephone or video consults. Your symptoms may be something simple that can be helped by a tele-consult. Or they can determine that you need to be seen and inform you how that can be done safely. Do you have a doctor you can call?

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@sara111

I don't understand what you are saying?? A vaginal and anal prolapse has nothing to so with an acid reducer… You must have accidentally replied to the wrong post

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Hi @sara111, Tess started this new discussion called "Strange Chest Symptoms for a Month" in the Women's Health group.

Here is the discussion that you are participating in about prolapse in Women's Health
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/i-am-looking-to-discuss-prolapse-bladder-or-any-kind-of-prolapse/?pg=23#comment-384370

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I do not know if you are seeing a physician or not. If you are not, may I suggest most physicians would request an Endoscope or other pertainent tests, x-ray etc.I have a negative with the sterum pain, since one brother died of cancer from general symptoms and another had stomach acid reflexes that he is just now addressing. I know the Virus scare has put a hold on non-essenital medical tests. Please tell me you have called your Physician or will call and let them evaluate your symptoms over the phone. There is nothing wrong with being pro-active for yourself. Waiting is not a good answer.

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tess0831,
Sorry you are having these strange symptoms. I have a hiatal hernia along with something called Barrett's Esophagus. I also sometimes have something that my doctor calls esophageal spasms. These are spasms in the throat area sometimes when I try to swallow, happens when I eat certain foods and often feels like something is stuck in my throat for a little while after it occurs. It may be since the spasms cause a tightening of the muscles in the throat a bit. You can look up hiatal hernia but Barrett's is mostly caused by reflux and the reflux may be happening without you knowing it (silent reflux–yes, it is a real thing).. I never felt any reflux and my doctor told me after I had an Endoscopy that I had Barrett's Esophagus. It is when some of the cells in your throat begin to look more like cells in your stomach because of the stomach acid coming up.

I am wondering if you might have any of this going on. You could have any one of these things, not necessarily all of it. Lately for me it has started to feel like my sternum is heavy and makes it feel like there is weight on my lungs a little bit when I take a deep breath. It is worse at night after I have been moving around all day than in the morning when I wake up.

I think if you have any amount of reflux at all you should tell your doctor and see if they want you to see a Gastroenterologist or maybe just get on some prevacid or other similar medicine for a while and see if that helps. A simple chest x-ray could check out your lungs just to be safe. Also have you taken your temperature? I was thinking this might be a good thing to do, also just to be safe. I have been doing that periodically when this happens just to make myself feel better about the remote possibility of COVID-19. I am 65 and have been very careful and self distancing for quite a while now so I do not think this is likely but just makes me feel better when that thermometer reads 97.6 which seems to be my most common reading. With this going on for as you say about a month without progressing, I would not suspect COVID-19 but better to be safe.

These are just a few suggestions since we seem to have some similar symptoms. I wish you the best in trying to figure it out. Maybe others on here will have other ideas for you as well. I think you are correct in not going to the doctor right now but you could have a telemedicine visit or just a phone appt. perhaps to see what your doctor has to say. Your doctor can advise you on the issue of the safety of actually seeing a doctor. Please keep us posted on what you uncover but hopefully this will give you some loose guidance under the rather odd circumstances we all find ourselves in at this time..

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@funcountess

Hello,
Your symptoms need to be checked out by a doctor.
If you do not want to sit in a waiting room which is not advisable right now, you can have the front office call you while you sit in your car, a few minutes before your appointment.
Wear gloves, and a mask.
In the meantime have you tried over the counter acid reducers?
Good Luck

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A few weeks ago I tried Nexium (which you take for a certain amount of days and then stop)– it didn't seem to help me much. I've also tried Tums, which hasn't seemed to help in a noticeable way either. Thank you for the response!

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@baxtersmom

tess0831,
Sorry you are having these strange symptoms. I have a hiatal hernia along with something called Barrett's Esophagus. I also sometimes have something that my doctor calls esophageal spasms. These are spasms in the throat area sometimes when I try to swallow, happens when I eat certain foods and often feels like something is stuck in my throat for a little while after it occurs. It may be since the spasms cause a tightening of the muscles in the throat a bit. You can look up hiatal hernia but Barrett's is mostly caused by reflux and the reflux may be happening without you knowing it (silent reflux–yes, it is a real thing).. I never felt any reflux and my doctor told me after I had an Endoscopy that I had Barrett's Esophagus. It is when some of the cells in your throat begin to look more like cells in your stomach because of the stomach acid coming up.

I am wondering if you might have any of this going on. You could have any one of these things, not necessarily all of it. Lately for me it has started to feel like my sternum is heavy and makes it feel like there is weight on my lungs a little bit when I take a deep breath. It is worse at night after I have been moving around all day than in the morning when I wake up.

I think if you have any amount of reflux at all you should tell your doctor and see if they want you to see a Gastroenterologist or maybe just get on some prevacid or other similar medicine for a while and see if that helps. A simple chest x-ray could check out your lungs just to be safe. Also have you taken your temperature? I was thinking this might be a good thing to do, also just to be safe. I have been doing that periodically when this happens just to make myself feel better about the remote possibility of COVID-19. I am 65 and have been very careful and self distancing for quite a while now so I do not think this is likely but just makes me feel better when that thermometer reads 97.6 which seems to be my most common reading. With this going on for as you say about a month without progressing, I would not suspect COVID-19 but better to be safe.

These are just a few suggestions since we seem to have some similar symptoms. I wish you the best in trying to figure it out. Maybe others on here will have other ideas for you as well. I think you are correct in not going to the doctor right now but you could have a telemedicine visit or just a phone appt. perhaps to see what your doctor has to say. Your doctor can advise you on the issue of the safety of actually seeing a doctor. Please keep us posted on what you uncover but hopefully this will give you some loose guidance under the rather odd circumstances we all find ourselves in at this time..

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Since you mentioned it, I have had that happen before on a few occasions where I've swallowed food and immediately had hiccups or had trouble swallowing. It doesn't happen all the time, but it has happened a few times now since this started (and beforehand, though rarely). At the time I would just think I ate too much too fast or something, but it does seem a bit unusual. I have been taking my temperature consistently, and it's been normal (along with having no other symptoms), but I plan on keeping that up just in case. I also plan on calling my physician and scheduling a phone visit, just for peace of mind and knowing that it's better to be safe than sorry. Awhile back I did try Nexium, which you take for a certain amount of days and then stop– it didn't seem to make much of a difference. On the bottle it says not to take it again for a certain amount of months without consulting a doctor. I'm wondering if prevacid is different/would be safe to try in the meantime? Thanks very much for your response!

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@tess0831
Glad you are planning a call with the doctor. I am needing an Endoscopy which I do periodically for my Barrett's but can't do it right now because of COVID-19. I don't know if the Barrett's or the hiatal hernia causes the Esophageal spasms or why I have them but they detected them with a test called a Barium Swallow. It is a very noninvasive test that watches what happens when you swallow this white chalky liquid. It is less invasive than an Endoscopy but they look at different things. As far as prevacid, I actually take something called omeprazole which is supposed to help with the reflux because once you have Barrett's it can turn into cancer if you do not keep the reflux to a minimum. My gastroenterologist told me that as long as I am good about taking the omeprazole, I should not have to worry about any cancer so I am taking it religiously. I mentioned prevacid because I think it is the nonprescription version of omeprazole. I think I just get it by prescription because it is cheaper that way. My omeprazole says "substituted for prevacid" on the bottle so I think omeprazole is a generic version of prevacid. But your doctor will be able to tell you if anything like this would be helpful. I took Nexium for a while many years ago as well but my doctor did tell me only to take it for a period of time.

In addition to taking your temperature regularly, you may also want to get an oximeter. You can get them online for very little money and it is the thing you can clamp on your finger that measures the level of oxygen in your blood. If you feel like you are having difficulty breathing, this can help you to see if you are getting enough oxygen. I just ordered one myself and had to click around a bit to find one that did not cost a lot but finally did. I thought it would help to put my mind at ease when I get this feeling of heaviness on my chest and shortness of breath. Or it may tell me something is wrong (hopefully not). You can read about them online and what the readings should be. Lots of people are getting them now because of COVID which is why they were a little hard to find, but I thought it might help you to tell if this is a lung thing for you or something else. I find that anxiety has similar symptoms and I know I have that periodically.

Keep us posted on what you find out and how you are doing.
Best to you.

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I have a chest pain that comes and goes in the same place. My GI doc attributes it to esophageal spasms. He gave me hyoscyamine which does help.
Do you suffer from anxiety? If so I think it would help you if that too were addressed.

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@cim37343

I have a chest pain that comes and goes in the same place. My GI doc attributes it to esophageal spasms. He gave me hyoscyamine which does help.
Do you suffer from anxiety? If so I think it would help you if that too were addressed.

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Interesting, thanks for the reply! Is this something that's constant for you, or how long does it tend to last? My main concerns are that this has been happening for a full month now, and that it hurts when breathing deeply. I do definitely suffer from anxiety– I've never been officially diagnosed for it, but I've always been a very anxious person and it affects me all the time, sometimes physically.

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@tess0831

Interesting, thanks for the reply! Is this something that's constant for you, or how long does it tend to last? My main concerns are that this has been happening for a full month now, and that it hurts when breathing deeply. I do definitely suffer from anxiety– I've never been officially diagnosed for it, but I've always been a very anxious person and it affects me all the time, sometimes physically.

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I was your age when my digestive issues started. It was one thing then another throughout the years. I sure wish I had understood the role anxiety played. I would highly recommend you begin a meditation practice. If you are in a large city you can find meditation groups you can attend to help you learn about meditation. Getting a handle on anxiety early will be a great help to you. Secondly there are therapists who can help you understand how emotions affect your body and how to control that. This does not mean the chest pain is in your head. It’s very real and if it is from esophageal spasms, I think the hyoscyamine will help. But anxiety can cause the spasms or other digestive issues. Now all that being said there’s a possibility that it’s not digestive but possibly an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the rib to the breastbone. I also had that in the past. My treatment was ibuprofen. Heating pad also helped. And it can last for weeks. And for me the pain from esophageal spasms remains a dull pain for weeks. When pain gets worse I use the hyoscyamine.

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@baxtersmom

@tess0831
Glad you are planning a call with the doctor. I am needing an Endoscopy which I do periodically for my Barrett's but can't do it right now because of COVID-19. I don't know if the Barrett's or the hiatal hernia causes the Esophageal spasms or why I have them but they detected them with a test called a Barium Swallow. It is a very noninvasive test that watches what happens when you swallow this white chalky liquid. It is less invasive than an Endoscopy but they look at different things. As far as prevacid, I actually take something called omeprazole which is supposed to help with the reflux because once you have Barrett's it can turn into cancer if you do not keep the reflux to a minimum. My gastroenterologist told me that as long as I am good about taking the omeprazole, I should not have to worry about any cancer so I am taking it religiously. I mentioned prevacid because I think it is the nonprescription version of omeprazole. I think I just get it by prescription because it is cheaper that way. My omeprazole says "substituted for prevacid" on the bottle so I think omeprazole is a generic version of prevacid. But your doctor will be able to tell you if anything like this would be helpful. I took Nexium for a while many years ago as well but my doctor did tell me only to take it for a period of time.

In addition to taking your temperature regularly, you may also want to get an oximeter. You can get them online for very little money and it is the thing you can clamp on your finger that measures the level of oxygen in your blood. If you feel like you are having difficulty breathing, this can help you to see if you are getting enough oxygen. I just ordered one myself and had to click around a bit to find one that did not cost a lot but finally did. I thought it would help to put my mind at ease when I get this feeling of heaviness on my chest and shortness of breath. Or it may tell me something is wrong (hopefully not). You can read about them online and what the readings should be. Lots of people are getting them now because of COVID which is why they were a little hard to find, but I thought it might help you to tell if this is a lung thing for you or something else. I find that anxiety has similar symptoms and I know I have that periodically.

Keep us posted on what you find out and how you are doing.
Best to you.

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@baxtersmom @tess0831 Omeprazole is actually the generic of Prilosec. Lansoprazole is the generic of Prevacid. They are very very similar.
I too have Barrett’s but mine is currently in remission. My Gastroenterologist wants me to continue to take omeprazole though. he has mentioned a couple of others I could take instead if the potential long term effects of omeprazole concern me, but the others need to be taken twice daily.
JK

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I too am having constant pain in my right chest. It started on March 31st. No fever, No breathing problems and No high blood pressure. It’s driving me crazy!

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@tess0831

Interesting, thanks for the reply! Is this something that's constant for you, or how long does it tend to last? My main concerns are that this has been happening for a full month now, and that it hurts when breathing deeply. I do definitely suffer from anxiety– I've never been officially diagnosed for it, but I've always been a very anxious person and it affects me all the time, sometimes physically.

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@tess0831 Since you mentioned anxiety and that it hurts to breathe deeply, I though I could give you another possibility to think about like a physical breathing problem. Anxiety will just make it worse and you start breathing by yanking up from your neck to expand the rib cage instead of using your diaphragm for slow deep inhalations. I have some issues with this because I have thoracic outlet syndrome and that affects how my rib cage moves because of muscle tightness between my neck and chest that is tighter on one side. I get to where it hurts a bit to get deeper inhalation lower down in the lungs as they expand until it is used to expanding there. Brisk walking could help because you can get deeper inhalations and kind of retrain your body how to breathe properly. Anxiety pushes it toward tight upper chest exertions, and exercise will promote diaphramatic breathing. I'm sure you've had a lot of other good suggestions to consider and with COVID-19, you have to pay attention to breathing issues if they point to those kinds of symptoms. I do know when you breathe using your upper chest muscles, it speeds up your heart and causes some anxiety. If you are able to go for a walk to test this theory, you might be able to answer your questions. Listening to music and doing deep relaxed breathing in time to the music also helps reduce anxiety.

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