Chest pain may be caused due to a number of reasons. Some of these could also be life threatening. A chest pain should never be ignored no matter how old you are. Even children and adolescents, even though they are physically active, may complain of a chest pain after playing or working out.
There are many different types of chest pain that may affect children and adolescents. Some of these may not be as serious; however, some symptoms may be the onset of a serious heart condition. Irrespective of the severity of the chest pain, it is important to visit a healthcare provider immediately.
Common Types of Chest Pain In Children And Adolescents
The causes of a chest pain in most teenagers and children are not related to the heart. In other words, they are noncardiac causes. The noncardiac causes of chest pain can be categorized into the following: musculoskeletal, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and psychological.
1. Musculoskeletal Causes Of Chest Pain
The most common type of chest pain in children and adolescents is the chest-wall pain or the musculoskeletal chest pain. This chest pain can be further divided into the following:
- This condition is also known as costosternal syndrome.
- It is characterized by a sharp, stabbing pain.
- The pain is aggravated by deep breathing and usually lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes.
- This is commonly found in adolescents and young adults.
- An upper respiratory tract infection with excessive coughing may cause this pain.
- There may be signs of inflammation experienced in the form of warmth, swelling, and tenderness.
Idiopathic Chest-Wall Pain
- This is also known as nonspecific chest-wall pain and is most commonly seen in children.
- There may be a sharp pain felt in the chest which may last for a few minutes.
- This chest pain can increase with rapid breathing.
- This is also known as lower rib pain syndrome.
- This pain may be felt in the lower chest area or the upper abdominal area which may be caused due to a trauma or dislocation of the 8th, 9th, and 10th ribs.
- These ribs are more prone to trauma.
Trauma And Muscle Strain
- Most children and teenagers involved in sports and gymnastics are prone to chest-wall trauma.
- The signs include localized pain, tenderness, and swelling in the affected area.
- Weightlifting can cause severe trauma to the chest if it is not done correctly.
- This chest pain may be caused due to poor posture or even a pinched nerve.
- There may be a sudden, sharp pain experienced that may last for a few seconds.
- This can occur at rest or while performing a mild activity.
- This condition is also known as hypersensitive xiphoid syndrome.
- This is characterized by a localized pain or discomfort.
- The pain or discomfort may be increased by eating a heavy meal, coughing, and bending and rotating movements.
2. Pulmonary Causes Of Chest Pain
Many children and adolescents can experience chest pain due to a problem in their respiratory system. Bronchial asthma is the most common cause of pulmonary chest pain. Sometimes, exercises can trigger the symptoms of asthma, even for those with a mild breathing condition.
Infections in the lungs including bronchitis, pleurisy, pleural effusion, pneumonia, empyema, bronchiectasis, and lung abscess can cause acute chest pain. This type of chest pain may also increase in cold climatic conditions as the cold air may cause more difficulty in the airway.
3. Gastrointestinal Causes Of Chest Pain
Sometimes, a discomfort in the stomach can cause chest pain in children. Common gastrointestinal causes of chest pain in children and teenagers include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, esophageal spasm or inflammation, and cholecystitis. The most common symptom is a burning sensation felt in the chest.
4. Psychological Causes Of Chest Pain
Chest pain in children and teenagers may be caused due to certain psychological issues. These include anxiety and stress experienced in schools or at home. Experiencing stressful events can cause chest pain and breathlessness. It may also cause sleep disturbances.
Hyperventilation, which is often caused due to anxiety or a panic attack, can cause chest pain in children. Children may also experience dizziness and difficulty in breathing.
These are some of the common causes of chest pain in children and adolescents and are not related to a heart condition. However, there are some chest pain symptoms that may be the sign of a serious health condition. Visit the doctor and carry out necessary tests to be sure of the reason behind their chest pain.