When Should You Go to the ER for Chest Pain?
ER centers see multiple patients every day for chest pain. Here are some symptoms that may indicate that your condition may be an emergency and should be diagnosed right away:
- Shortness of breath, as if you have been running
- Dizziness, weakness, or lightheadedness
- Nausea, indigestion, and sometimes vomiting
- Tightness, pressure, squeezing, stabbing, or dull pain (commonly occurring in the center of the chest)
- Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, or arms
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Cold sweat or clammy skin (possibly accompanied by trembling)
- Prolonged pain that is getting worse
- Pain lasting two or more days
- Pain caused by an injury
- Coughing up bodily fluid of any color (pink, brown, green, yellow, grey, etc.)
- A feeling of apprehension
- A heart condition for which you are already receiving treatment
These symptoms, along with chest pain, may indicate the following underlying conditions:
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism
- Pulmonary edema
- Anxiety attack
- Hiatal hernia
- Broken or bruised ribs
- And more
Challenges in Diagnosing Chest Pain
There can be wide differences in underlying chest pain causes between anxiety, hiatal hernias and heart attacks, even if the symptoms are very similar.
Women even experience heart attacks differently than men—rather than experiencing crushing chest pain and pain in the left arm as men do, women’s heart attack symptoms include a feeling of the chest expanding or feeling full; general pain anywhere in the chest cavity, not just on the left side; stomach pain that women may mistake for acid reflux; and cold sweats.
Emergis ER focuses specifically on providing compassionate care so that your symptoms are not overlooked or generalized. Compassionate, personalized care is the only way to provide accurate, timely care.
You should expect that doctors or nurses may ask these or other probing questions to better understand your condition:
- Do you have a history of heart problems or angina?
- Has your prescribed medicine stopped working?
- Have you had an operation or illness that has kept you in bed recently?
- Is the chest pain only on one side and does it stay the same when you breathe?
- Do you have a burning feeling and a skin rash in the same place as the chest pain?
- Is there trouble breathing along with the chest pain?
- Does it get worse when you touch your chest or ribs?
- Do you have belching and/or burning just above your stomach?
- Does it come and go before, during or after eating?
- Does it get worse when you bend or sit down?
- Does the chest pain stop with antacids?
To the best of your ability, try to focus on where your chest pain is occurring and how you would characterize or describe that pain—the more information your physician has, the sooner he or she can prescribe the right care.
Types of Care for Chest Pain
The chest pain you’re experience may just be experiencing severe acid reflux and the doctor may prescribe an antacid in the short term and some weight loss long term. But it may be a sign of a much more severe condition. If you are experiencing severe chest pain, you should strongly consider visiting the emergency room. If you are having a major medical emergency, then the emergency department doctor can give you accurate, personalized treatment to avoid any longterm damage.