Does your teenager complain of having shortage of breath or sharp pains from the ribs? If yes, then do not panic. This is not a sign of heart attack.
Such pains can be unpleasant and it differs for each child, but it is nothing to worry about. Unlike adults, chest pain in teenagers is rarely a sign of heart problem. Of course it is natural that it may cause a lot of anxiety to you as well as your child.
The fact is that teenage chest pain is mostly caused due to inflammation of the cartilage that attaches the ribs to the breast bone. It is also known as costochondritis. This is common among teenagers, and girls tend to experience it more than boys.
This is like a sharp stabbing pain which might look like a heart attack, but is usually harmless and goes away on its own within 3 to 5 days. Sometimes though, it may last longer, from several weeks to a month.
The pain generally generates from a small portion of the area. One can feel that the pain is coming directly from where the breastbone meets the ribs.
[ Read: Physical Development In Adolescence ]
Causes Of Chest Pain In Teenagers:
There are many reasons for chest pain. It is difficult for a child to understand the position of chest pain. In fact, the pain might not be related to chest at all.
Some common causes for chest pain include:
- Soaring in the chest wall.
- Pain in the lungs, esophagus or heart.
- Inflammation between ribs and breastbone (costochondritis).
- Muscle injury.
- Gastro esophageal reflux.
- Infection in the respiratory system.
Anxiety Related Pain:
Anxiety related pain is common among teenagers. Some of chest pain in teenagers symptoms include:
- Light headedness
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Exercise-induced asthma
- Acute bronchitis
- Pain from coughing
- Lung infection
[ Read: How To Cure Teenage Acne ]
If your child seems to be suffering from chest pain, take him or her to the doctor immediately. The doctor will examine your teenager and may ask for a few tests like:
- Blood test
- Chest X ray
- ECG – Most of the time no tests are required.
When To Worry?
Based on the report your doctor will prescribe or refer you to visit a specialist if needed:
- If your child feels his or her heart is racing
- Feels dizzy
- Sweaty with mild pain
- High fever
- Sleep more than usual
The pain can become worrisome if it doesn’t go away or affects the health of your teenager. Chest pain needs to be considered serious if your teen:
- Has had heart operation.
- Has faced major trauma like accident, abuse, sudden death in the family.
- Faced severe blow in the chest.
- Has sickle cell disease.
- Has cystic fibrosis.
[ Read: Nutritional Requirements For Teenagers ]
Care At Home:
It is not possible to prevent chest pain completely, but with the following steps you can avoid it:
- Avoid strenuous activities.
- If the chest pain is due to muscle strain your child should avoid weight lifting.
- Strain caused by school bag can be reduced by carrying it on both the shoulders and not on one side.
- You can put warm or cold pack on the sore area of your child to feel better.
- Medicine like Tylenol, Ibuprofen can be offered to teenager.
- Treatment depends on the cause of chest pain. It is important that you must follow your doctor’s instruction.
- Lastly make sure your teen gets plenty of rest.
If you’re concerned about pain that’s not going away visit your doctor immediately. Make sure that you inform him about your family history of any heart disease, intolerance to cardiac exercise, sudden death and similar medical data.
Do share your experience and tips as it can be helpful to other parents.
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