Chest Pain With IBD

We asked the community to submit questions about inflammatory bowel disease IBD, and we received a range of great ones! Here, Dr. Nandi answers a question related to chest pain and IBD:

"Is having a tight or painful chest a symptom of UC?"

Chest pain is not typical of IBD

No, chest pain is not typical of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. There are many reasons to have chest pain, though.

When we think of chest pain, many of us think of cardiac chest pain, which is referred to by clinicians as "typical" or "classic" chest pain. This refers to chest pain from illness of the heart.

When one has blockages in the arteries that give blood to the heart itself, this is known as coronary artery disease (CAD). When the blockage is significant or complete, a section of the heart muscle tissue may lack blood and oxygen altogether, resulting in a heart attack.

It can also result in severe chest pain with physical exertion. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pressure/pain, or even loss of consciousness.

GERD can manifest as chest pain

People may actually be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause chest pain even without an acid taste in the mouth or burning sensation in the chest. This is known as atypical chest pain as it is not associated with physical exertion.

In fact, most atypical chest pain is from GERD. Other causes of chest pain may include esophageal spasm, eosinophilic esophagitis, pericarditis, pleurisy, or other lung processes.

I recommend visiting with your primary care physician or gastroenterologist if you have chest discomfort. Often, a thorough history and physical exam are enough to find a true diagnosis.

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