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Chest Pain with IBD

Editors note:
We recently asked the community to submit questions about IBD. We received a range of great questions that Dr. Nandi is now answering! This post answers a question related to chest pain and IBD. The question was:

“Is having 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 by clinicians as ‘typical’ or ‘classic’ chest pain and refers to chest pain from illness of the heart primarily. When one has blockages in the arteries giving 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 (aka, myocardial infarction) or severe chest pain with physical exertion (symptoms: shortness of breath at rest or exertion, chest pressure/pain, or even loss of consciousness).

GERD can manifest as chest pain

Common things being common, individuals may actually suffer more from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which can manifest as chest pain alone even without 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, 85% of atypical chest pain is from GERD. Other etiologies of chest pain are quite numerous but may include: esophageal spasm, eosinophilic esophagitis, pericarditis, pleurisy or other lung process).

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 better elucidate the origins of your symptoms and true diagnosis.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.