Chest Pain in Teenagers- Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Chest Pain in Teenagers

Chest pain is not limited to only older adults. Children and teenagers are also prone to chest pain due to variety of factors. Chest pain is a concern at any age. Virtually, any region of the chest can cause pain. This includes the chest wall muscles, diaphragm, lungs, or region between the ribs and breastbone. Chest Pain in Teenagers- Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Signs and Symptoms of Chest Pain in Teens

Before understanding the causes and treatment for chest pain in teenagers, it is better to first familiarize oneself with the symptoms for early detection. Listed below are some common symptoms of chest pain teenager’s experience.

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Light headedness
  • Heartburn
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting

Chest pain can be of 2 types- cardiac chest pain which leads to a heart attack and the non-cardiac chest pain which is limited to pain and discomfort in the chest. In either of both conditions, it is advisable to seek the doctor’s attention.

Causes of Chest Pain in Teenagers

Chest pain in teenagers can be broadly classified into 2 categories- Cardiac chest pain and Non-cardiac chest pain.

Causes of Non-Cardiac Chest Pain

98% of the chest pain in children and teens are due to non-cardiac chest pain. Listed below are some causes for non-cardiac chest pain.

#1. Musculoskeletal Chest Pain

Musculoskeletal or chest wall pain is the most common cause in non-cardiac chest pain. Several diseases like costochondritis, slipping rib syndrome, Xiphodynia, and muscle injuries can cause non-cardiac chest pain.

#2.Respiratory System related Chest Pain

Another rare cause of chest pain in teenagers could be related to respiratory diseases. Pulmonary embolism can lead to acute pain in the chest and also cause shortness of breath. Other respiratory conditions that can cause chest pain include bronchitis, pneumonia, lung abscess, and empyema.  Respiratory System related Chest Pain

#3. Gastrointestinal related Chest Pain

One of the most common causes for chest pain in children and teens is gastrointestinal related. Digestive problems are always linked to chest pain. Some of the gastrointestinal issues that can cause chest pain are esophagitis, GERD, esophageal spasm, and peptic ulcer diseases.

#4. Anxiety related Chest Pain

Children and teens are also prone to stressful situation and anxious moments in their life. These anxiety and panic attacks can cause hyperventilation which in turn leads to uneven breathing patterns and chest pain.

Causes of Cardiac Chest Pain

Cardiac chest pain rarely occurs in children and teenagers. Listed below are some of the causes of cardiac chest pain in teenagers.

#1. Pericarditis

Accumulation of excess fluid in the pericardial cavity and inflammation of the pericardium causes pericarditis.

#2. Coronary Artery Diseases

Teens suffering from coronary heart diseases can have acute chest pain. Coronary Artery Diseases

#3. Arrhythmias

Uneven heart rhythms can cause chest pain and discomfort in teenagers.Arrhythmias

#4. Structural Heart Defects

Structural heart defects like aortic valve stenosis and mitral valve prolapse can cause chest pain in children.

Diagnosis of Chest Pain in Teenagers

Once your child or teen experiences the above mentioned symptoms, it is important to re-confirm it with certain diagnostic methods. Some of the common diagnostic methods to diagnose chest pain in teenagers include

  1. Electrocardiography
  2. Chest x-ray
  3. Endoscopy
  4. Lung function tests
  5. Treadmill test
  6. Echocardiography
  7. Blood tests.

Treatment for Chest Pain in Teenagers

Based on the cause, treatment options will vary for chest pain in children. Some of the common and effective treatments are

  1. Surgeries or procedures to treat cardiac related chest pain. In certain cases, cardiac related drugs are prescribed.
  2. NSAIDS are usually prescribed for musculoskeletal non-cardiac chest pain.
  3. Histamine blockers or proton pump inhibitors to treat gastrointestinal related non-cardiac chest pain.
  4. Ashtma related medication to treat respiratory related chest problems.
  5. Psychiatric medications and therapies to treat anxiety related chest pain.
  6. Antibiotics for chest pain that occurs due to infectious diseases.

Chest Pain in teenagers is always a concern, as teenagers tend to express less. To enable your teen to express about his/her problems, strong support from parents is encouraged. Diagnosing chest pain in teenagers are the right time and immediate medical attention can prevent your teen from developing other medical complications.


Yaamini Radhakrishnan
Yaamini Radhakrishnan:I am a clinic research professional, graduate in biotechnology and post graduate in biochemistry. Have also pursued freelance writing since the past 5 years I am married and have a daughter. I am a native and reside at Bangalore.