Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes severe chest pain after eating?"
After I eat, almost every time, my chest is seized by severe pain. I don't really remember when this started, but it's been getting almost unbearable since the summer. What could cause this?! What should I do about it? If I go to a doctor, which kind of specialist is the right kind to see?
Severe chest pain that is associated with eating has several possible causes all of which should be evaluated sooner than later. I will quickly review a few common cause of chest pain that may fit with your specific situation. 1. Heart disease - Coronary artery blockages can reduce the amount of blood flow going to the heart which causes chest pain. It is extremely common in the United States, but usually is not associated with eating. 2. Pleurisy - This is inflammation in the connective tissue just outside the lung. Pain is worse with breathing deep and not typically associated with eating. 3. Esophageal problems. Chest pain shortly after eating may be esophageal reflux. This is usually reported as a painful burning in chest commonly referred to as heart burn. Pain is worse after eating spicy food, alcohol, or chocolate. The description of your chest being seized by severe pain raises the possibility of diffuse esophageal spasm. This is occurs when the muscles around the esophagus begin contracting erratically causing severe chest pain. It isn't necessarily right after eating, but it could be. My advice is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician who can perform a more detailed history and physical exam. He or she may refer you to a gastroenterologist if esophageal spasm is suspected. Good luck.
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