If you think aortic dissection is the cause of your chest pain, seek emergency medical assistance immediately. Typical signs and symptoms include:
- Sudden severe chest or upper back pain, often described as a tearing, ripping or shearing sensation, that radiates to the neck or down the back
- Loss of consciousness (fainting)
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden difficulty speaking, loss of vision, weakness, or paralysis of one side of your body, such as having a stroke
- Weak pulse in one arm compared with the other
Pneumonia with pleurisy
Frequent signs and symptoms of pneumonia are chest pain accompanied by chills, fever and a cough that may produce bloody or foul-smelling sputum. When pneumonia occurs with an inflammation of the membranes that surround the lung (pleura), you may have considerable chest discomfort when taking a breath or coughing. This condition is called pleurisy.
One sign of pleurisy is that the pain is usually relieved temporarily by holding your breath or putting pressure on the painful area of your chest. This isn't usually true of a heart attack. If you've recently been diagnosed with pneumonia and then start having symptoms of pleurisy, contact your doctor or seek immediate medical attention to determine the cause of your chest pain. Pleurisy alone isn't a medical emergency, but you shouldn't try to make the diagnosis yourself.
Chest wall pain
One of the most common varieties of harmless chest pain is chest wall pain. One kind of chest wall pain is costochondritis. It causes pain and tenderness in and around the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone (sternum).
In costochondritis, pressing on a few points along the edge of your sternum often results in considerable tenderness in those small areas. If the pressure of a finger causes similar chest pain, it's unlikely that a serious condition, such as a heart attack, is the cause of your chest pain.
Other causes of chest pain include:
- Strained chest muscles from overuse or excessive coughing
- Chest muscle bruising from minor injury
- Short-term, sudden anxiety with rapid breathing
- Peptic ulcer disease
- Pain from the digestive tract, such as esophageal reflux, peptic ulcer pain or gallbladder pain that may feel similar to heart attack symptoms