The 3 Week Diet

What to know about gas pain in the chest

Gas pain in the chest is usually not a cause for concern, though it can lead to pressure or discomfort. It can also be difficult to tell apart from other chest pain, including that associated with a heart attack.

This article looks at the various reasons a person might feel gas pain in their chest. It also discusses symptoms, treatments, and home remedies.

Symptoms

young man with chest pain sitting on bench in park
Gas pain can include tightness and stabbing pains in the chest.

People often describe gas pain in the chest as a tightness or discomfort in the chest area. As well as the pain, there may be a slight burning or stabbing sensation. The pain may also move to the abdomen.

Other symptoms of gas pain in the chest may vary in each case, depending on the cause, but can include:

Gas pain vs. heart pain

The sensation of gas pain can be worrying, as it may be difficult to tell apart from heart-related pains, such as those of a heart attack.

Gas that gathers in the stomach or left part of the colon can feel like heart-related pain.

The following symptoms may suggest that chest pain is related to a heart attack:

  • pain that resembles a strong pressure applied to the chest
  • pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including neck, back, shoulders, arms, or jaw
  • a pain in the jaw is particularly common in women
  • shortness of breath or inability to catch the breath
  • profuse sweating
  • feeling lightheaded or woozy
  • nausea

A person experiencing symptoms of a heart attack should seek emergency medical attention.

Causes

Possible causes of gas pain in the chest include:

Heartburn

Heartburn is a type of indigestion that typically feels like a sharp, burning sensation in the chest. It is caused by stomach acid leaking up into the esophagus.

Food intolerance

When someone has a food intolerance, it can upset the digestive system, causing extra gas. Lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance are two known causes of gas buildup.

A person who lacks the enzymes needed to break down certain foods may experience bloating, abdominal pain, and excessive gas.

Food poisoning

glass of cola held in womans hand
Carbon dioxide gas from fizzy drinks can be a cause of chest pain.

Eating contaminated food can cause food poisoning, which may also explain gas pain in the chest. This pain often comes on quickly and can be experienced alongside other symptoms, including:

Artificial sweeteners

A diet high in artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and xylitol, may cause digestive symptoms, including excess gas, in some people.

Excess carbonation

Carbonated drinks, for example, soda, tonic water, or sparkling water, have a fizz, provided by carbon dioxide gas.

Too much of this gas can make a person burp, but it might also build up in the digestive tract and cause discomfort or pain.

Swallowing air

Similarly to the carbon dioxide in fizzy drinks, the air we swallow when we eat, drink, or chew gum can become trapped in the digestive system.

Swallowing too much air can cause a buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to gas pain in the chest or abdomen.

Digestive conditions

Certain digestive conditions can lead to symptoms that resemble gas pain in the chest.

Inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease, may cause gas to build up in the digestive system.

Other problems in the digestive tract, such as those due to diabetes mellitus, can cause similar symptoms.

Chronic inflammatory conditions can also produce the following symptoms:

  • pain in the lower or upper abdomen
  • excessive flatulence
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • general fatigue
  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • weight loss
  • nausea

Too much fiber

While fiber-rich foods are beneficial for the digestive system, eating too much of a certain type of fiber can lead to excessive gas.

This excess production is because the fiber may stay in the gut for a longer time than other food components. It is broken down by bacteria, resulting in gas.

Gallbladder or biliary tree diseases

A condition in the gallbladder or biliary tree, such as gallstones, can cause chest pain and excess gas.

Other symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • off-colored stools, often light or pale color

Diagnosis

Diagnosing gas pain in the chest is necessary to avoid serious complications.

A physical examination is usually not accurate enough for an exact diagnosis, so a doctor will usually recommend additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG). An ECG can look for heart problems.

Once heart concerns are ruled out, a doctor may recommend other tests to identify possible causes of the chest pain. These can include:

  • blood or skin tests to check for allergies or food intolerance
  • tests for chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or UC
  • upper GI endoscopy (EGD) to check for damage to the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum
  • abdominal ultrasound or CT scan to take images of abdominal organs

Treatment and home remedies

piece of ginger with cup of ginger tea
Drinking ginger tea may help to relieve indigestion and other digestive symptoms.

Treatment for gas pain in the chest often begins at home.

The following home remedies may help to ease the pain of excess gas in the chest:

Drink warm liquids

Drinking plenty of liquids can help to move excess gas through the digestive system, which can ease gas pain and discomfort. Drinking non-carbonated beverages will avoid extra gas intake.

Warm water or herbal teas may help to ease pain and discomfort for some people.

Eat some ginger

Ginger root has traditionally been used to help with digestive issues. Research published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology suggests that ginger can help with certain digestive symptoms.

A small bit of the root may be eaten or made into ginger tea. Ginger products are available for purchase online, including chewable candies, drinks, and supplements.

Avoid possible triggers

If the exact cause of gas pain in the chest is not known, it may be best to avoid any possible digestive triggers. This could include carbonated drinks and sodas, milk and dairy products, and gluten.

Exercise

Exercise may help gas to move through the digestive system to be eliminated. Even a simple walk around the block may help.

Medical treatments

Medical treatment options are available to help with gas pain in the chest. Over-the-counter medications, such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) may ease some indigestion symptoms.

Chronic conditions, for example, IBS, GERD, UC, or Crohn’s disease, may need to be treated with prescriptions from a doctor, though treatment will vary in each case.

In most instances of food poisoning, a person can recover with home treatment, such as hydration and rest. In worse cases, they may require antibiotics or time in the hospital.

In some cases, gallstones might be treatable with medication that may encourage the body to dissolve the stones over time.

Prevention

Preventing gas pain can be as easy as avoiding common triggers, including:

  • greasy and spicy foods
  • caffeinated or carbonated beverages
  • artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols
  • contaminated food
  • foods that cause allergies or intolerances

Regular exercise can also help keep the digestive system working well.

Complications

Complications related to excess gas in the chest are mostly due to an underlying condition. For instance, people with severe food poisoning or food intolerances may be at risk of complications.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis or food poisoning need immediate medical care. These can include:

  • rashes or feeling warm in the face
  • swelling of the throat, face, or mouth
  • bloody stools or vomit
  • diarrhea and dehydration

When a person experiences chest pain along with these symptoms, they should seek emergency medical care.

Outlook

There are many causes of gas pain in the chest, and many treatments or home remedies that may help relieve the feeling. The reason behind gas pain in the chest should be diagnosed by a doctor to determine the best treatment.

Harmless gas pain in the chest will typically go away quickly with home treatments or over-the-counter medicines. Taking preventative measures and seeking a medical diagnosis may help treat any underlying issues and avoid complications.

Anyone experiencing other symptoms related to more serious conditions should seek emergency medical attention.

Anyone who experiences persistent and severe symptoms of gas pain in the chest, or symptoms that last for more than 2 hours and do not respond to home treatment, should also seek medical attention.

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