Chest Pain, Chronic

Many problems can cause symptoms in the chest area, such as discomfort, shortness of breath or pain with swallowing. Follow this chart for more information.

Our trusted Symptom Checker is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals. Find a possible diagnosis by choosing a symptom and answering a few simple questions.

Remember, be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Is the affected person an infant or child?

  • Do you have shortness of breath?

  • Does your chest ache along the edges of your breastbone, and does your pain get worse when you cough or take a deep breath?

  • Do physical activities, emotional stress or extreme temperatures cause a feeling of pressure under the breastbone?

  • Do you have fullness and pain under your breastbone or in the upper right side of your abdomen after eating a greasy or fatty meal?

  • Do you have a burning sensation in your chest that either feels worse when you eat or drink, or feels better when you eat or drink but gets worse a few hours later?

  • Do you have stinging or burning pain that started after you had a case of SHINGLES?

  • Do you have episodes of wheezing and a cough that won’t go away?

  • Do you have a tight feeling in your chest and on ongoing cough that produces a lot of mucus?

  • Do you have an ongoing, mild cough, has your shortness of breath been increasing slowly for years, and have you been a smoker or been exposed to dust and fumes where you work?

  • Do you have a fever, chills or night sweats, or are you coughing up bloody mucus?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • See Chest Pain in Infants and Children
  • Diagnosis

    You may have COSTOCHONDRITIS, an inflammation of the joints in your chest.


    Self Care

    Costochondritis usually goes away on its own. Try an anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve the pain. Heat may also help. See your doctor if the pain doesn’t get better with these treatments.


  • Diagnosis

    Your pain may be from a heart problem called stable ANGINA.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Angina is a sign that a person has a higher risk of serious heart problems, such as heart attack.


  • Diagnosis

    The pain you have may be from a GALLBLADDER problem.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Also, avoid fatty foods.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have an ULCER, IRRITATION OF THE ESOPHAGUSor SPASM of the muscles of the esophagus.

    If the discomfort is in your upper stomach, and gets worse when you lean forward or lie down, you may have a HIATAL HERNIA. This is a common problem in which the top of the stomach is pushed into the lower chest after eating.


    Self Care

    Limit your alcohol intake, eat smaller meals, and avoid fatty foods. Try an antacid to help relieve your discomfort. Sleeping on 2 or 3 pillows or a foam wedge, or raising the head of your bed, may also help.

    If these steps don’t relieve your symptoms, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Your pain may be caused by POSTHERPETIC NEURALGIA, a condition that can remain after the shingles infection.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. In many cases, postherpetic neuralgia can be treated with over-the-counter pain medicines and capsaicin cream.


  • Diagnosis

    Your chest discomfort and shortness of breath may be caused by ASTHMA.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away. Asthma is very treatable, but it can be a serious condition.


  • Diagnosis

    These symptoms may be caused by CHRONIC BRONCHITIS, especially if you smoke.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. If you smoke, STOP SMOKING. Also, avoid breathing in anything that can irritate your lungs.


  • Diagnosis

    EMPHYSEMA may be the cause of your problem.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. If you smoke, STOP SMOKING. Also, avoid breathing in anything that can irritate your lungs.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have an infectious illness, such as TUBERCULOSIS, or a FUNGAL INFECTION. A more serious problem, such as LUNG CANCER, could also be the cause.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away.