What could be the cause for my chest tightness/pressure?

For about 6 years I have felt this uncomfortable tightness or pressure in my chest. It's difficult to describe the location, but it's usually in the upper and middle part of my chest in a large area.

The pain occurs out of the blue, it's never triggered by movement such as exercising, or food/drinks.

I was a smoker from ages 14 to 21. During that period I experienced the pain very often, on the worst days it lasted 30 to 40 minutes and it was painful and uncomfortable. I tried sitting in different positions, drinking water, breathing deeply but nothing relieved it or made it worse, just like now.

Luckily the pain has not been as severe since I quit smoking 6 months ago but I still feel it almost daily. Still the same tightness and pressure, lasts for 10 to 15 minutes.

My doctor thought I should try taking omeprazole because she said I might have acid reflux disease, although she agreed that I don't have the symptoms. I took the medicine for 4 days, felt sick because of that, so I stopped. Also, I feel very strongly about taking any pills, especially when I probably don't have the disease the medicine is made for.

I am a young woman, only 22 years old and I just want to live like a normal healthy person. I want different advice from different people. Maybe someone has had experience with anything I am suffering from.

11 Replies

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  • Hi, I wonder if it i's anxiety? A few years ago, I was getting tightness in my chest, almost like a constant feeling of fear, it was awful. I was very anxious at the time but I had never before experienced physical symptoms like that. My GP gave my venlafaxine which I took for a year and it worked wonders. The symptoms disappeared overnight. The coming off the drug was awful, though, like having withdrawal symptoms. But it was worth it. Also recently I had chest pain at night on two occasions, like a tightness and rising towards my throat. My GP thinks it was reflux and advised me to take Gaviscon before going to bed. I haven't tried it yet as it hasn't occurred since. I thought it might have been caused by notriptyline which I recently started taking for facial pain but my GP did't seem to think so.

  • Hi, thank you for responding. I have read about anxiety related chest tightness. The chest tightness sure as hell seems a lot like what I have but it can't be anxiety related since I'm not an anxious person, right? I mean, of course I worry about things, sometimes overthink which makes me nervous in certain situations, but that's what many people do. I don't have any unexplainable constant fears. If I'm scared about some future events, I do get nervous but I deal with them and it all goes away. So... assuming I understand anxiety and the symptoms correctly, I can say my chest tightness is probably not related to that.

  • Hi, well, perhaps it's not but sometimes I'm not worried consciously and still get the physical symptoms. But if you are not anxious by nature or stressed, then perhaps it's not... although might be worth asking your doctor.

    Or try something else for reflux perhaps? Good luck anyway!

  • Another thought, have you ever had an ECG? Or does your doctor think it's not your heart?

  • Yes I have, ECG, blood sugar and blood pressure is fine. These are all the tests that have taken so far. I will be having more of different tests in the future but in the meantime I decided to find more information.

  • That's reassuring then. I'm no expert but I'd guess it's either anxiety related or reflux. I understand what you are saying about not being an anxious person but our bodies can react in strange ways to stress etc. Perhaps there has been something in your life (an event or an on going situation) which you have coped with well on the outside so to speak but your body is telling your something different? I have chronic facial/dental pain and a psychiatrist I saw recently suggested that the pain may be a way for me to focus on myself rather worrying about everybody else (like I tend to). All I know is that our our bodies can sometimes react even when our mind thinks it has coped well. I hope you find the cause of this and get better!

  • Hi, I have bad pain in my chest muscles sometimes. That is my reaction to certain things, usually chemicals, that I'm allergic to. I take a Med for muscle spasms and it goes away within about an hour. I have Fibromyalgiia and sometimes that causes the same type of pain and tightness there. I hope this gives you some other avenues to research and talk with your Doctor about. Best of luck, Alice

  • See a McTimony chiropractor. There are plenty of women chiropractors. Your rib muscles may be over contracted. If they are then they need to be lengthened out. Not a job a male chiropractor could be comfortable with.

    See an Alexander teacher. The head should be balanced on top of the spine. If the head is off the balance point then muscles hold the head this in turn will produce a lot of tight muscles. The tight muscles may be what you are noticing.

    Hope this helps.

  • Sorry Hun but I would stick with GP for answers as it could be a myriad of things - what one person feels could be different to another as we are not alike - for instance you and the person next to you are in for an operation - you bounce right back after it the other person is still flat on their back - getting the drift?? Our makeup is entirely different - you might like garlic another person hates it. Please take my advice and stick with GP - everyone will give you the backing on this site as they care and have experienced things overall. Hope you get your answers that you are seeking - take care 😘😘😘

  • Hi there hk2rp, from what you describe it sounds similar to what I have now and again. the pain starts in my chest and continues on up to my throat. this comes on out of the blue, nothing triggers this in particular. yes it is painful. the first time I experienced this I had to go to the a&e frightened I was having a heart attack but after a ecg nothing showed up so what a relief that was. as soon as I feel this coming on the only way I get relief before it has time to kick in is to swallow in air as you would to force a burp and then burp , this brings relief almost immediately after doing this a few times. I hope this helps some what.

  • Do you have other joint or back pain? Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs, often worst around the breastbone or the lower ribs, and can be part of a more widespread inflammatory arthritis. There is one type (spondyloarthritis) that does have a preference for younger people (usually starts before age 30), and includes inflammatory back pain (most commonly lower back, sacroiliac joints and neck areas), so if you do have unexplained back or other joint pain, then maybe ask your GP if you can be referred for a rheumatology assessment.

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