Chest Pain in Children: 6 Questions for Parents to Ask

6 Questions to Ask When Your Child Complains of Chest Pain

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I see this scenario quite frequently in cardiology clinic. Generally speaking, about a quarter of my new patient visits complain of the following set of symptoms at their appointment:  chest pain lasting for several months, maybe 2-4 times a week, for less than 10-20 seconds at a time, at a moderate intensity, sometimes with activity, but more often not. And the child just recently told his or her parents about it.

Understandably, the parents are worried.

But the good news is that while it’s pretty common for children to say that their chest hurts or even that their “heart hurts,” it’s rarely caused by heart disease.

Most kids will complain of chest pain sometime between age 7 and their teenage years, but thankfully, it will be caused by an underlying heart condition in less than 1% of them. More frequently it is related to a viral illness, stress, or most commonly, musculoskeletal pain.

It is my hope that this information will give parents a little peace of mind: the pain manifesting in your child’s chest is rarely caused by heart disease. But I also understand how concerning it can be for parents, and sometimes further investigation may be necessary to narrow down the cause. So where should parents start?

I suggest answering the following questions:

  1. Has my child been sick recently?
    One of the more common causes of chest pain in children is from costochondritis. This is a condition characterized by inflammation in the joint between the breastbone and the ribs, typically caused by a viral illness or frequent coughing. Costochondritis is not concerning, but in some cases it can be long lasting and your child may need a prescription anti-inflammatory to get rid of it.
  2. Was my child injured recently?
    If your child was hit in the chest during a sporting event or even a fall, this could be a more obvious cause of the chest pain. However, even heavy lifting, frequent coughing, or intense aerobic exercise can strain the rib muscles and cause chest pain. You’ll want to contact your pediatrician if the pain is severe, persistent, or associated with difficulty breathing.
  3. Is my child stressed?
    While it might be difficult to imagine a 7-year-old being stressed, school pressures and the loss of a loved one, for example, can all contribute to feelings of stress. What may be even more surprising is that stress can cause chest pain. While chest pain caused by stress is harmless – it’s really no different than a stress-related headache – the duration of the pain is understandably worrisome for parents.
  4. When does it hurt?
    Does it hurt when your child is sitting down, or only when he or she is active? Chest pain from non-cardiac causes usually happens both when a child is at rest and when they are active. My first question is often whether the pain occurs during gym class or while watching TV. Chest pain that only happens with or immediately following moderate to vigorous activity, such as while running and playing competitive sports, is a different matter which does warrant further medical investigation.
  5. How long has it been hurting?
    Has it been going on for months or even years? If yes, then it is almost certainly not caused by heart disease. Chest pain caused by cardiac disease is either so severe that no child could cover it up or ignore it, or it is progressive and associated with other problems such as passing out or worsening fatigue, that it would be highly unusual for the symptoms to continue over several months. However, non-cardiac chest pain is the very opposite; it can often be ignored, is not associated with other concerns, and often just lingers in the background.
  6. How painful is it? Mild-to-moderate or severe?
    Typically mild-to-moderate chest pain is not related to the heart, and isn’t a cause for concern. However, the more concerning chest pain is when the pain is sudden and severe. Typically it will hurt so bad that your child will not want to go to school and will look like he or she is struggling with the pain. This kind of pain is most often caused by pericarditis, which is an inflammatory condition of the heart. Thankfully, pericarditis is very rare. But what’s interesting about it is that it’s the most common reason that a child’s chest pain is related to the heart. If your child has sudden onset of severe chest pain that is continuous and often occurs around the same time of an illness – contact your child’s pediatrician that same day.

The vast majority of the time, chest pain in children is not related to the heart. While there is no single medical history question or medical test that can determine the source of chest pain, hopefully the six questions discussed above can help parents and teens narrow down what’s potentially worrisome and what’s not. If you have any concerns at all, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician, and have your answers to the above questions ready. They will help steer your pediatrician in the right direction.

Read about potential ways to help your child find relief from chest pain in this related blog post.

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Dr. Nicolas Madsen

About the Author: Dr. Nicolas Madsen

Nicolas Madsen, MD, is a cardiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute, with special interest in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. He is focused on research and community outreach programs to find better ways to screen and educate children and adolescents regarding their risks for heart disease or sudden cardiac arrest.

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Comments

  1. Lynda June 10, 19:26
    12yrs old boy,complaining of pain on left side below ribs. Does not have it when sitting only standing ,walking and running. Complained about it a few months ago but it went away. Started back after football training. He is a worrier and prone to wind pain. Eats well but thin and small for age. Any idea what could be causing this pain.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 18, 13:31
      Lynda: As you have read, the most likely source is not the heart. More likely this is related to growth or maybe injury from football. Is he able to continue with football when he has the symptoms, or does activity make it much worse. If he can continue, then I would not worry too much, however if activity consistently makes the pain worse, then I would advise a trip to his doctor. Hope that helps.
  2. Shannon June 14, 01:00
    My 7 year old was kicked in chest by another kid at a party...now he said his chest hurts. I don't notice any signs of discomfort only spread to touch.?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 18, 13:32
      Shannon: Chest pain from trauma like a kick is a little different than the type of chest pain spoken about in this blog. Hopefully your son has recovered well at this point. If he has not, I would recommend a discussion with his doctor. Hope that helps.
  3. Aryan June 15, 09:45
    Hi.... I am 14 years old... From Nepal .... I have been chest pains in the left side of my body...below my breasts usually where people say the heart is... I am a boy and its been two months of these attacks now... I haven't consulted a doc yet. My parent s say that it is because of gastric problems and make me drink soda... The pain varies ... Some thing the pain is minor and sometimes I can't bear the pain ... Please help me... I have history of getting tired on assembly lines and going blue
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 18, 13:33
      Aryan: It sounds like you might be having the typical chest pain of teenagers. I would speak to your parents and let them know how you are feeling. If this history of getting more tired than friends your age or going blue is currently happening, then I would encourage you and your parents to visit your doctor. Hope that helps.
  4. Josie June 18, 23:19
    Right now this is the first time but in the middle of my chest just below my breast is a sharp pain it does not hurt that bad but it's been going on for about 7 minutes all I was doing was watch tv by the way I'm 12
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 25, 09:39
      Josie: I assume you are feeling better at this time. Random, sharp, and brief periods of chest pain is very common is teens. I suspect that your pain is the common type of chest muscle pain and not heart related. Please be sure to discuss your symptoms with your parents. I hope that helps.
  5. Virginia Davis June 22, 18:33
    Thank you so much for the information. My son had chest pain over the weekend, and it was very frightening. He had been sick recently, and the doctor said the pain was caused by all the coughing he did. That being said, I wonder, what other kind of things should I be aware of to look for that might indicate heart disease?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 25, 09:38
      Virginia: you are right, chest pain in kids can feel really frightening. However, feel reassured that unknown heart disease is truly rare in otherwise healthy kids. I would stick with the questions from the blog as the best way to help determine if the risk of a heart related source is higher in your child. Hope that helps.
  6. nams June 24, 11:05
    i am 17yr old and have chest pain since 4 months it is painful n occurs anywhere above below breastbone and at random times it has reduced a little since 3 months but when it comes it is sharp stabbing pain . ekg and ecg is normal . i don't know what to do its been 4 months . what to do ?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 25, 09:33
      Nams: it sounds like you are experiencing the classic symptoms of non-heart related chest pain. Unfortunately, it can last a long time (like 4 months). If the pain lasts more than 20-30 min, it might help to take some ibuprofen to minimize the pain. Hopefully, the questions and answers from this blog offer you some reassurance that the pain you describe is not heart related. Hope that helps.
  7. Annette June 24, 17:02
    Hi my son who is 10 in August2015 he is a little over weight I am doing every thing I can to change that, he was in bed and started saying he had pain in his left side just under his left Breast , I checked his pulse straight away and it was 70 beats per minute , I'm a nervous wreck do I take him hospital or make a Dr appointment tomorrow please help.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 25, 09:34
      Annette: I imagine that your son's chest pain is better at this time. It is quite reassuring that his heart rate was only 70 beats per minute. I would rely on the questions and answers from this blog to assess your son's condition and please remember how unusual it is for a child to have chest pain related to the heart (less than 1%). Hope that helps.
      • Annette June 25, 13:13
        Yes it is better, he's been to school today and he has not had anymore pain, thank you so much, this site was a huge help thanks again.
  8. Selena June 28, 00:21
    my 15 year old niece is complaining of chest pain, it was so bad that she said it feels like her heart is being crushed she took a bath and it sort of helped but the pain hasn't completely gone away. I checked her pulse and its 64. Her pulse is slow and it skips beats a lot. Should I take her into the hospital?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 29, 09:42
      Selena: It is not possible for me to advise you on whether to take your niece to the hospital as I do not have the ability to fully examine her remotely. However, in general, someone with chest pain that is relieved by a bath with a simultaneous low pulse rate is not very likely to be experiencing any type of heart related emergency. If it continues and you are worried, I would start with her regular doctor. You are more likely to arrive at the right answer in their clinic (and at less of a price). Hope that helps.
  9. maheeja June 28, 05:34
    i am 18yr old and have chest pain at random places at random times and quite sharp and stabbing .my fear took me to the cardiologist who laughed it off saying it was muscle pull but can a muscle pull continue this loong ? i have been suffering since 3-4 months now and all the doctors take it lightly saying there is no medicine for it... how long can unexplained chest pain continue? and is it harmful ? and why does this happen ? will yoga help ?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 29, 09:42
      Maheeja: Sorry to hear that you felt the cardiologist "laughed it off". The short answer is "yes". Chest pain from the muscles and bones in the chest can last many months. Unfortunately, like in your case, it is quite painful. If it lasts more than 20-30 minutes, then you might find ibuprofen helpful, although I advise against taking ibuprofen every day for a long period of time. Yoga might help and exercise is always in general a good idea. However, please rest assured that what you describe sounds like typical non-cardiac chest pain and while it is painful, it is not harmful. Hope that helps.
      • maheeja June 29, 10:58
        doctor , thanks a lot for your reply and concern . you have reassured me that there is nothing to worry though it is painful and really really respect and appreciate your time into answering these questions and reassuring me . thankyou
  10. nami June 30, 11:58
    i am 17 yr old and have vibrations in my right chest where the breast part starts like as if a phone is vibrating. it is very frequent n started about a day ago . it is insanely annoying though not painful . is it harmful ? could it be a muscle spasm?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 01, 08:42
      Nami: Your description of vibrations in the chest does not sound heart related. Your suggestion of a muscle spasm sounds like a possibility. If you are able to check your pulse at the time of one of these episodes and notice a normal heart rate, you could be even more certain that the heart is not the source (helps to rule out palpitations). If it continues, it might be wise to speak with your doctor. In the meantime, make sure to talk to your parents. And lastly, if you consume a lot of caffeine, you may try eliminating it and see if you notice a difference. Hope that helps.
      • nami July 01, 16:51
        They still continue Doc took the chest x-ray n said there is no reason for it as xray is normal. Yes i drink coffee in the mornjng daily. What should i do ?
        • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
          Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 02, 11:51
          Nami: I am sorry that your pain continues. From the details of this question, and those you have previously asked, it sounds like you have done everything to be certain that there is nothing dangerous going on (certainly all the heart testing has been reassuring that your pain has nothing to do with your heart). I am afraid there is not any other answer I can offer at this time. Thanks.
          • Kim July 12, 11:43
            I have a 17 year old daughter who complains of her heart hurting regularly. She has dizziness sometimes when laying down. She gets random bruising, small, about double the size of a pinhead, randomly. Sporadic rashes. She was diagnosed last Nov. with enterio virus D-68 and had slight polio symptoms. Her strength is almost all back from that. Her joints are always cracking, but we think it has to do with having had the enterio virus. Should she be seen by Dr. Or is it nothing to worry about. Thank you for your time.
          • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
            Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 13, 13:35
            Kim: Sorry to hear of your daughter's recent illness. Since she had this recent illness with multiple symptoms, I would advise you to speak to her regular doctor about her chest pain symptoms. It is not because I suspect that the chest pain is related necessarily, but rather, I think it is a good idea to keep your regular provider in the loop when you are dealing with symptoms that may (or may not) trace back to a common source. Hope that helps.
  11. jimmy July 01, 10:27
    hi, Iam 16 year old I have chest pain from last one month it is mild pain and it occurs in my left chest, sometimes in hand and at back please help.shuld I go to cardiologist regards, jimmy
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 02, 11:49
      Jimmy: I would start by telling your parents that you are having these chest pain episodes. If the hints and suggestions in this blog do not help answer your questions about what might be causing this chest pain, then I would start with a conversation with your regular doctor. As I mention in the blog, it is less than 1% of the time that chest pain in teens comes from the heart, which is why I would not start by going to the cardiologist. Hope that helps.
  12. Usman ghani July 01, 12:51
    my six years old son sometimes says that he has pain in chest since many months. He was h pylori positive 7 months before. He took medicines. Today he told my chest hurts. He is weak, cant play like his friends. He felt tired soon.. Cry everytime.everytime he s angry and crying and fighting.. I m very worried about him i m tired of trying to make him happy. I feel angry at him. Please help a mother worry about his child health
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 02, 11:50
      Usman: I would talk to his regular doctor about these symptoms. As you know, H Pylori is a cause of heartburn pain and this may again be the source of your son's pain. H Pylori can be difficult to fully treat despite medicines. Given this history and the comments that your son feels unwell, I think making an appointment with his doctor is a good place to start. And do remember that while his behavior may be frustrating, it is not his fault that he has H Pylori, and as a result, make sure you don't let your wish for him to feel well turn into frustration directed at him because of his fatigue and crying. Hope that helps.
  13. Carrie July 02, 18:32
    My 5 year old son started complaining of his chest hurting. When I put my hand on his chest it was beating very hard and fast. This happened a few times and I called his doctor. Has EKG done and they said it looked good. Now they are wanting him to wear a heart monitor just to make sure. I am very worried. When he runs and plays he said his heart don't hurt but he said he can feel it with out touch his chest my guess he means its beat faster and hard. Should I be very concerned.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 08, 08:52
      Carrie: The heart monitor will help. If you are able to capture the moments when he is having chest pain and his heart is beating fast, then the doctors will be able to definitively determine if his heart's electrical activity during these episodes is normal. Usually the heart activity is normal and I hope that is the case for your son. Hope that helps.
  14. Anita July 04, 20:27
    My five year old came up to me the day before yesterday crying and said her chest hurt. She pointed to the area right her right breast. She seemed to be in extreme pain. I asked if she had an accident at school, just been doing some active play, she said no. Yesterday about the same time while sat next to me she started crying again and said her chest was hurting in the same place. The pain lasted about a minute or less. I am concerned because that was the second time she was complaining about chest pains. Please advice. Thank you.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 08, 08:51
      Anita: As you have read, chest pain from the heart is not unusual in children (especially teens). Your description of a pain that occurs when sitting in an otherwise healthy child seems unlikely to be heart related. If this continues, you may consider discussing it with her regular doctor, although I would focus on causes that are not heart related (especially if her cardiovascular exam is normal). Hope that helps.
  15. karen July 06, 06:21
    My 5 year old son was complaining with chest pains yesterday, he suffers with muscle spams in his legs and arms for the past 3 years I was told it's grown pains and now in his chest on the left side don't know what to do, had him in hospital and was told it's muscle spams. Been told by one person it's spams and another it's grown pains.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 08, 08:51
      Karen: A child can certainly experience muscle spasms in all types of muscles in the body, including those in the chest. Having chest muscle pain is not any more worrisome than having leg muscle pain. If the pain in the legs and arms has been evaluated by a medical team and determined to be "normal" growth related pain, then I suspect that the new chest pain is not any different. Hope that helps.
  16. Diego July 07, 11:28
    I have a bit of chest pain right now, it's been going on for a minute or so. My dad says it could be caused by carrying my little sister, and it pulled on the muscles in my chest. I feel the pain somewhere in the middle of my chest, and it feels like it's just moving around to different parts of my body and back. My age is 13.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 13, 13:31
      Diego: There are many ways to temporarily injure your chest muscles – like carrying a little sister for too long. Hopefully some rest will help you feel better soon. Hope that helps.
  17. Angela July 07, 18:01
    My son is 17yrs old and he plays basketball he's 6'7 and sometime gets a sharp pain in his chest. I've taken him to a cardiologist since he played basketball just for precaution. I also taken him to the ER and they stated its in his muscle and the cardiologist stated he's healthy. It's not an on going pain it only comes every several months. I have to take him again to get checked My questions should I be concerned. If he takes an aleve or motrin hes fine.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 13, 13:31
      Angela: It sounds like you have done the right thing and had your son checked out. If all evaluations have been reassuring, then I would feel some peace of mind that chest muscle pain is far and away the most common reason for chest pain in teens. The fact that motrin seems to help only helps solidify that chest muscle pain is the much more likely source of the pain. Hope that helps.
  18. Karen July 07, 22:11
    My 6 year old Granddaughter complains of pain in her heart. It is right in the center. She was born with trechamayalisia (sp). Could this be a carry over from that even though she is no longer symptomatic for it? It is random, but it does slow her down when it's happening. Thank-you for you help? Sometimes Tums helps.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 13, 13:29
      Karen: Tracheomalasia as you know is related to the dynamic narrowing of the large airway and is often something that kids can grow out of as they age. While the most likely reason for your granddaughter's chest pain is not related to her heart or the tracheomalasia, there is one diagnosis that should be considered. Was there ever talk about your granddaughter's condition being caused by a "vascular ring"? This is a "ring" caused by blood vessels and it can trap the trachea and esophagus, which sometimes causes chest pain with swallowing. This would be detected by more advanced imaging of the chest like a cat scan. And importantly, the chest pain should associate with food in some way (pain with swallowing or reflux). Hope that helps.
  19. tarn July 08, 20:29
    My daughter is 17 and gets chest pain around the breast bone area. She describes it as feeling really tight and achy. If she trys to stretch out it really hurts. It comes at anytime and seems to last on and off for a few days then goes away for a few weeks then comes back again. She is tired a lot too. But not sure if that's normal teenager tiredness and staying up till 3am on her phone. She has had some problems with stress and anxiety. She's also had a few viral colds, throat infections recently, not sure if it's linked to that. Any advice is much appreciated. thanks
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 13, 13:34
      Tarn: You noticed something very interesting when you brought up that the pain is worse "if she try's to stretch out". Movement of the chest wall does not impact pain caused by the heart, but it does impact pain caused by the chest muscles themselves. As a result, this sounds like common teenage chest pain and it should run its course (although it can take a while). Hope that helps.
      • tarn July 13, 17:09
        thanks Dr Madsen, your advice is very helpful and has put my mind at ease.
  20. Heather July 09, 22:00
    Hi, My 8 year old daughter has been having heart palpitations on and off for almost 3 years. She saw a cardiologist 2 years ago who put her on a 30 day heart monitor. He told us that since her resting heart rate "only" went up to 180 beats/min that he wasn't willing to do anymore testing. He said that she might out grow it. For the past 2 years about once or twice a month she will palpitations for a few days and then it stops again. She will be playing or even sleeping and she will wake up and tell us that her heart is "booming". After a few minutes it stops. For the past couple of days the palpitations have become very constant - every hour or so. This hasn't happened before. We brought her to the ER two nights ago and they did blood work and e.k.g. but of course when hooked up she didn't have the palpitations. Yesterday we brought her to her pediatrician who recommended we bring her to another cardiologist. Unfortunately when I called to make an appt. they don't consider her to be urgent so she has to wait until Sept for an appt. My concern is that the palpitations are becoming more often and she also is complaining about a "tight" chest. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I am very concerned as my family has a history of heart problems -heart murmurs, genetic high cholesterol and micro valve prolapse. Thank you for any advice!
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 13, 13:33
      Heather: I agree with the plan to see a cardiologist. Most palpitations like you describe, if heart rhythm associated at all, are related to something called premature ventricular complexes (or PVCs). These are usually benign but also may be irritating. Since this has been going on for years, I don't suspect waiting 2 months will cause any harm as a benign cause is much more likely. However, if the anticipation of the unknown makes waiting too difficult, you might be able to ask your pediatrician to advocate moving the appointment up a little. Hope that helps.
  21. Jennifet jaquish July 10, 20:56
    .hello my name is Jennifer my 13 year old daughter has been having pain left upper underneath breast hard to breathe sometimes when she breathes in. this has been going on for a couple of months now comes and goes quite frequently she was feeling the pain last night and got sickthis is starting to worry me I looked at her stomach and it looks like it is swollen on the left side what should I do
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 13, 13:36
      Jennifer: I don't know what to make of the swollen left side of her stomach, but the chest pain that is worse with breathing in is classic for chest muscle pain. In addition, the fact that the pain comes and goes makes it all the more likely to be unrelated to the heart. Hope that helps.
  22. Natessa Ramirez July 15, 17:25
    My 5 yr old was watching tv a few minutes ago and suddenly came up to me and said her chest was hurting but was holding on to where her heart is and when I asked her if it hurt a little bit or a lot she said a lot. I asked hurt what did it feel like and she said a thunderstorm? She seems fine right now but she asked me if she felt hot which she doesn't, I told her no why do u feel hot and she said yes in the inside. Should I be more concerned than I am?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 20, 09:04
      Natessa: I anticipate that you should be able to simply keep a close eye on your daughter. If she continues to have these episodes, then you could consider a conversation with her regular doctor. As you are aware, the vast majority of these episodes are not heart related even if the pain is coming from the center of the chest. Hope that helps.
    • Joshua July 20, 17:48
      Hello, I'm 13 about to turn 14 in January and I have asthma I'm having pain in my heart but the doctors said it's fine and I'm having problems with my chest pain and arm and shoulder and left leg it feels like I'm week I thought I'm having a heart attack I'm very scared and it hurts under my breastbone to and top pain and side in my left area it's spread sometimes in my body to my neck or back when I sit down or lay down please help I'm scared to die and I'm kinda overnight I'm not fat and my left ribs will hurt also and a aches in my heart sometimes am i going to die :(
      • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
        Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:07
        Joshua: It sounds like you are having a lot of stress at this time. I am sorry that you are so worried. The first step is to tell your parents how you are feeling. If they are not able to sort out what is ailing you, then I think you should talk to your doctor. I suggest talking to the doctor not because I think something worrisome is happening (the odds are very convincing that what you describe is not related to your heart); rather, the doctor may be able to reassure you that you are in good health. Hope that helps.
  23. Ankur July 16, 03:15
    Hi, My daughther is 11 months old. We have observed that she frequently puts her hand on the left side of her chest. We checked and noticed that there is some hardness under the breast area. We are not sure what exactly could be the reason of that hardness but we think that she is not feeling any severe pain as she is not crying due to that. Please suggest is this something to worry or we should consult a doctor? Thanks for any advice.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 20, 09:05
      Ankur: Hard to know what to make of your description without the ability to see and feel it myself. If it is as noticeable and unusual as you describe, then a visit with her doctor is likely to be a good idea. Given her age, she should be scheduled to see her doctor as she turns one. Hope that helps.
  24. Jade Meyirck July 19, 15:26
    Hello- I am a 17 year old female. For the past three days I have been suffering with a pain on the right side of my chest. It tends to be sharp and very painful, this only lasts for a few seconds and can have large gaps between them. Although I have also had a dull pain in the same area. The pain tends to occur more when I am moving around e.g. bending down but does hurt when I am just sitting. I have not had any illness or accident recently. I am unsure what the cause is and was wondering whether I should see my GP.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:09
      Jade: You sound like you are having the classic symptoms of non-heart related chest pain. If you are quite concerned by these events, then maybe a quick visit with your GP will help resolve that sense of worry. However, from what you describe, this sounds like the common pain of the chest wall muscles that so many teens experience. Make sure to tell your parents how you are feeling. Hope that helps.
  25. Jill July 20, 16:35
    My 15 year old son is a long distance runner, in very good physical condition. About 3 weeks ago he began saying that he had trouble breathing when running hard. From what we can gather by that he means his chest feels tight when taking a big breath. He has had allergy/cold symptoms for almost the same amount of time. Nasal congestion and plugged ears, some throat clearing coughs but not a severe cough. He has continued to run but has reduced his normal pace. Soreness is in the center of his upper chest and sometimes felt at rest, worse the harder he is working out. Does this sound like muscle soreness or asthma related, or should we be thinking heart also?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:10
      Jill: The chest tightness you describe with taking a big breath is classic for chest musculoskeletal pain. This is likely a secondary issue related to his recent illness and should pass in the near term. If he does not have an asthma history, then I don't suspect that asthma is the cause. Rather, it seems like the consequences of a particularly persistent chest cold. Hope that helps.
  26. Syed July 21, 01:45
    Hi, My 8 years old son, he always complains the rapid heart beat trouble breathing, but now he is complaining severe chest pain couple of times in last 2 days. He come to me with holding his left breast. By the way I am an Echocardiographer, and have Sonosite at home. Yesterday I did the echo and found out mild regurgitation in Tricuspid Valve. Would you please give me any advise what I have to do, should I take to the cardiologist at this point or not. I heard it's normal for kids & teens. Thanks so much
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:06
      Syed: You are correct. Both chest pain and mild tricuspid insufficiency are normal findings in kids. At least you know that his heart function looks normal. I would focus on his symptoms of rapid heart beat. If these events come on like a light-switch and are not associated with activity or emotional excitement, then I would have a chat with his doctor about these concerns. Hope that helps.
  27. Donna July 21, 05:31
    Hi, my 10 year old daughter has been complaining about chest pain when she is actively running or doing sports at school. She first mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and it has come to the point that she refuses to participate in any physical activity because it gives her pain. She is slightly on the higher end of a normal weight range and has never been very active, should I worry or can these pains be associated with not being very fit?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:06
      Donna: Hard to know the right answer in your daughter's case. As you have read, we do think a little more about those chest pain episodes that happen only with activity. However, I have met many children who are overweight and don't love exercise/activity, often they express there discomfort with activity as increased chest pain. I would start with an in-depth conversation with your daughter about what she is noticing. If the chest pain continues with activity and there is no other likely explanation, then a visit to her doctor is probably the best next choice. Hope that helps.
  28. Keri July 21, 10:09
    My 8yr old son is complaining of a sharp pain right at the sternum every time he eats or drinks. The pain stops about a minute after he has swallowed food or liquid. Then it returns as soon as he eats or drinks something else. What could be the cause?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 22, 15:04
      Keri: Chest pain that is directly associated with eating should be discussed with his doctor. It may be a more simple case of reflux/heartburn. However, it could also be from some narrowing of his esophagus if the pain comes with the sensation of food getting "stuck". This is less likely than the heartburn but it is possible. It would most likely be because of some compression from the outside by a large blood vessel or ligament. This condition is known as a vascular ring. Again, more than likely, this is heartburn. His primary doctor should be able to sort this out. Hope that helps.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:11
      Keri: There are a couple of possible reasons for your son's symptoms and both deserve a full discussion with his doctor. One possibility is that he is having reflux symptoms and this is a case of heartburn. However, given the specific time course of these episodes, that may not fully explain his symptoms. The other possibility is something called a vascular ring, which is a blood vessel mediated compression of his esophagus. Some kids are born with slightly abnormal large blood vessel anatomy coming off the aorta around the location of their esophagus, and in some instances, these abnormal blood vessel locations lead to compression. I would discuss this further with his doctor, and depending on that discussion a referral to a sub specialist may be appropriate. Hope that helps.
  29. Kyrah July 21, 12:29
    My daughter is 7 and has randomly came up to me in the last week whining her chest hurts. She acts as though she has a painful bubble she has swallowed. She then cries telling me it's in her back. She grabs her back in the same place it hurts in the front. It only last less than a minute. She is very tall for her age and does get growing pains in her legs. Should I chalk it up to growing pains or worry about her gull bladder?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 22, 15:03
      Kyrah: If she is otherwise well and her doctor has not had any concerns, then you are most likely dealing with normal musculo-skeletal pain of childhood. You mentioned that she is quite tall, does that run in the family? How much taller than her peers is she? I only ask because some connective tissue diseases can cause large blood vessel changes and these are associated with very tall stature. This would be something her primary doctor could sort our with a good physical exam. Again, much more likely that this is simple chest muscle pain and not anything worrisome. Hope that helps.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:11
      Kyrah: I suspect that this is normal muscle pain related to normal development. I doubt that their is an association with her gall bladder. Since you brought up that she is very tall for her age, might there be other members of the family who are equally tall or does she seem taller than most (by age)? I ask because there are some connective tissue disorders that can associate with tall stature and other physical exam findings, and these disorders can be associated with chest and back pain. These disorders are uncommon and not statistically likely to impact your doctor, however if there is some family history or other signs (like does your daughter wear glasses?), then I would bring this up with her regular doctor. Hope that helps.
  30. Aiman July 22, 16:07
    Hi, my younger brother is 12 years old and he has been suffering from sharp pains in his chest these past few nights. He is asthmatic and we thought it was an asthma attack. We took him to the doctors and they let him use the nebulizer. it seemed to help, but the doctor then told us that is was very minor. However, the pain is sharp enough for him to start crying, and last for hours. His puffer doesn't seem to help either nor does our the nebulizer we have at home seem to help anymore. He had an infection in his stomach a few weeks ago, but has been better for quite some time. Is this normal? I don't really know what to do.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:05
      Aiman: It is lovely that you are so attentive to your brother's needs. Thank you for being his advocate. Certainly asthma can cause chest pain. However, it is also possible to have chest muscle pain and asthma. If your brother is otherwise healthy, then his chance of having chest pain related to his heart is very low. And yes, unfortunately, the chest muscle pain can be so severe that it causes a 12 year old boy to cry. My main advice for your brother is to make sure his asthma is well controlled. If that is the case, the chest pain episodes should get better with time. Hope that helps.
      • Aiman July 24, 19:42
        Thank you doctor. It seems to have stopped on it's own.
  31. Kathy July 23, 01:02
    I have a son who takes a very low dose of ritilin just for school. He has commented in the past saying he can feel his heart pounding in his chest numerous times I've taken him to his Dr to get checked out and they said he's fine he has these feelings even being months off of any medication. My question is can medication cause heart damage?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 10:04
      Kathy: Few medications cause heart related concerns, and those that do are usually only if taken in doses that are too large. There is no evidence that ritalin has any long term negative impact on the heart. Hope that helps.
  32. heather July 23, 03:51
    My son is underweight, barely eats and doesn't drink a lot he has autism and struggles with food textures and getting him to eat enough is a battle, he is asthmatic, very unfit and although he never really sits still he doesn't play sport. He has been getting dizziness, nausea and pain in his chest accompanied by a rapid heart rate. Sometimes it is when he is sitting down watching TV sometimes it is when he is running around. He is currently doing cross country training at school and they have to run every afternoon. He is finding this very difficult and says he's getting dizzy a lot and has a sore chest. He had a normal ECG 6 months ago when at rest and asymptomatic. Should I stop him training and request further investigation or encourage him to carry on training. Is he just in fit or does this warrant further input from the dr?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 24, 09:59
      Heather: The limitations of advice over this type of forum is most apparent to me when considering kids that have other health care needs (such as autism). It is less certain that the statistics that inform my recommendations for kids without other health needs are equally applicable to those with health needs. Therefore, in your case, if you have questions, I would discuss them with your doctor. In addition, pain and dizziness plus nausea is different than pain alone. Hope that helps.
  33. Roxana July 25, 17:44
    Hello, I am 16 years old. Just today, I was sitting down watching television and the middle of my chest had this really painful crushing sensation. I changed positions, got up and walked around, but I felt weak and the pain was still there. It would stop around two minutes later and start up again. I tend to get stressed very easily, but also my mother has heart problems such as heart attacks and also has a heart murmur. I used to get a lot of migraines, and just started coming back recently. I had a migraine when the pain started. Is it totally unrelated? I doubt it is anything serious, but what, is it just a normal thing in teenagers?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 27, 16:17
      Roxana: Thanks for your question. As you have read, this is very common, normal thing in teenagers. However, just because it is common doesn't mean that the sensation is not really painful. I would mention it to your parents so that they know how you are feeling. Hope that helps.
  34. Melissa July 27, 07:29
    My 14 son he claiming his chest hurt and it hurts when he walks he said it hurt bad he didn't do no sports but he does carry a heavy back pack to summer school he gets chest pain he it randomly happens when I brought him to doctors before they said it was in the chest wall cavity they ask him questions too but he said this time it hurts worser he said his body aches too
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author July 27, 16:18
      Melissa: I am sorry to hear the pain is so significant. However, the amount of pain is not an indication that something more serious is going on. As his doctors mentioned, the most likely reason is pain from his chest wall. Hopefully it will pass soon for his sake. Hope that helps.
  35. Bhuvan August 18, 13:13
    My 8yr old daughter has been complaining of chest pain for the last few weeks - short duration and mildly intense. She complained again today evening, and I noticed she had tried to lift me during the day, to impress her friend. She actually keeps trying this stunt very frequently, and I suspect the pain may be a result of this. Her schoolbag doesn't seem that heavy. Anyways, I will take her to a paediatrician tomorrow. Meanwhile, felt reassured by the information shared by the good doctor on this site, and his detailed answers. You are a good man doctor, best wishes from India!
  36. Kerrie August 21, 13:36
    Hi, my daughter is 17, and is over weight. Due to tyroid disease. We are currently trying to get her meds balanced. But last night she woke up holding her chest saying it hurt really bad. She was crying. I massaged it a bit, had her calm down. I asked the typical heart attack symptom questions, she had no other symptoms.. so i gave her some gas pills.. after a while she fell back to sleep.but do teenagers have the same symptoms of heart problems as adults?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:31
      Hi Kerrie, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  37. chrissy August 24, 13:01
    My son is 11, complains about chest pain trouble breathing Dizziness we have a heart condition problems in our family the doctor said that he had an enlarged heart at one time could there be something serious going on with his heart he hasn't been sick he hasn't gotten hurt please let me know as soon as possible I'm so worried
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author September 08, 16:05
      Chrissy: The mention of an enlarged heart is curious. If that is the case, then it is probably best to re-visit his doctor. If the diagnosis of an enlarged heart is certain, then a visit to a cardiologist is necessary. If the claim of an enlarged heart is from an EKG, then it may be a false positive and there is little to worry about. Probably best to clarify with his doctor. Hope that helps.
  38. Kaitlin August 24, 20:19
    My 10 year old daughter, who has rarely been sick in her entire life.. (she didn't have her first ear infection until age 7. She's had colds here and there but nothing major. She got sick about 2 months ago. She was complaining of a sore throat. She ended up having a throat, as well as double ear infections. She took all antibiotics, got better and was sick again within 5 days. Took her back, and they saw no infections, and said everything (ears, throat, nose) all looked fine but with the cough she had, the doctor prescribed amd antibiotic AND an adult antihistamine. I gave her both and noticed after a few days, it wasn't doing anything to help. The antibiotic was Augment (not sure if I spelled that right), and Zyrtec (for 12 and up) which I later found out was wrong because they're time released and the doctor told me I could crush and put in her drink. Since, she has been coughing for about 2-3 weeks. I have an appointment with an allergy/asthma doctor at the end of the week, but it's just getting worse. There's been 2 times I've thought about taking her to the emergency room. There's no history of asthma, allergies in the family, or any type of chest problems. I guess my question would be should I wait for the specialist on Thursday and have her sit in misery until then or could the emergency room diagnose something like this?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:28
      Hi Kaitlin, I suspect that you have already been to the doctor. If you're still having concerns, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. Answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation with your child's doctor.
  39. Karen August 27, 21:13
    Hi my son is 17 and has been experiencing episodes where he feels pressure or pain in his chest. He cannot localize the pain. He had a resting heart rate of 46 which dr said was low but EKG was normal. He was woken from sleep with the pain last night and he said it was more severe than before. I think he has had the "episodes" about maybe four or five times. He said when he holds his breath that helps. Usually lasts a minute or two. My father in law has rheumatoid athritis and I wonder if this isn't a heart issue if it could be RA? Thanks in advance for your expertise.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author September 08, 16:03
      Karen: While your family history does bring some very rare heart conditions into the picture, the most likely explanation is that these events are typical non-cardiac episodes. Holding the breath usually helps for 2 reasons: 1) it is calming, and 2) it prevents him from stretching his chest with each breath which helps minimize the muscular pain. If the events are getting more frequent or worse, then a visit to his doctor may help clarify the picture. Hope that helps.
  40. Marissa August 29, 09:25
    My 20 year old daughter has had episodes of left chest pain 2 or 3 inches to the left of her sternum. It is very sharp, lasts a couple minutes, then is over. It happens 1-2 times a day.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:25
      Hi Marissa, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  41. bosbas August 30, 01:03
    Hello, nice to meet you. I would like to ask a question about myself. I suddenly seem to have chest pain after waking up from my afternoon nap yesterday, it's precisely 14 hours probably, but my chest, to be precise, the lung region seems to pain. It's not from an external source because when the region is felt, it doesn't pain but, i would say the pain is from the inside. I never have had such pain in the chest till today, i am 16 years old right now. My mom is worried about this because of my dad's family has these problems with the vital organs since 3 generations and i am the 4th generation to inherit their half blood. Could i get an answer for my problem? Thank You~
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:23
      Hi Bosbas, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  42. Nick August 30, 17:42
    I am 15 years old, 6 ^3 and for months i have had chestvpain above my right and left breastplate. I also have some rib, neck, and back pain. I told my parents and they think that I am growing. Is this heart related? Also I play basketball almost everyday.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:21
      Hi Nick, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity, if you haven't watched it already. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  43. angie September 01, 16:33
    Hi, My daughter is 11 and has been having episodes over the last 2 weeks. She says her heart hurts and it feels like she is being electrocuted/shocked and she is getting sharp pains. Today is the first time she complained her left arm, in particular her shoulder hurts. Is this common in tweens?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:20
      Hi Angie, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  44. Teresa September 02, 23:17
    My 10 yr old has had chest pains about 2 yrs ago and we went to a specialist to fing out it's growing pains. On Monday night he got strong pains with light headedness/dizzy feeling..so I took him in to ER. they did ekg ,blood tests,chest x ray and they all came back fine. Since my son is telling me it's a lot worse and a different feeling than the last time,should I be concerned?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:19
      Hi Teresa, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  45. Ana September 03, 19:32
    My daughter is 12 and she woke up one day with pain on her ribs my husband thinks maybe she elbowed herself while sleeping but its getting worse,when she breaths it hurts and especially laughing. Is this a regular thing about growing or is this something I should be worried about?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:16
      Hi Ana, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  46. Ayse September 04, 10:27
    My 6 years old son has cold for the last couple of days. He complained today that he was coughing at school and his chest hurts. After having a warm bath at home he suddenly started crying with severe chest pain, he was scared, screaming it hurts mummy, I can't breath. It lasted 1 minute then he was very tired, he couldn't even stand. After 10min he was all good again. Dr visited at home and said everything seems fine except he can hear a murmur at his hearth and we should get it checked if we have a similar episode. I read about Pericarditis and worried if we should wait for another episode or go to dr as soon as possible. Thank you for your help
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author September 08, 16:02
      Ayse: Sorry to hear about this scary event. I can appreciate your concern. If the pain has not returned, then you can feel comfortable that this is not an episode of pericarditis. When children experience pericarditis, the pain is constant (it may go up and down but it never quite disappears). I suspect that all the coughing caused the pain and that it just caught up to him while taking the bath. The murmur is hard to know its degree of importance. If possible, it would be best to have this re-evaluated at a time when he is not sick to determine its importance. Remember that many kids have innocent murmurs and few have dangerous heart conditions. Hope that helps.
  47. James September 07, 07:26
    Hi, I'm 12. All of a sudden I got short sharp pains in my chest, my mum said it was indigestion but I have been doing my research for the past 5-10 minutes and stumbled upon your website. It really hurts but I can just bare it for now I'm pretty tolerant with pain but when it gets to bad I tell my mum. Could you help me ASAP?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 08, 14:11
      Hi James, I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity, if you haven't watched it already. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, you and your parents can use the answers to the above questions to help guide your conversation with your doctor.
  48. Joy September 10, 09:33
    My 15 yr old son plays football and complained of his chest hurting in the middle of his chest last night. Basically the sternum area. I asked if he was hit hard in practice last night and he said no more than usual. This morning after lifting weights at school he called and said it hurt to breathe after lifting. I want to take him to the dr. but I didn't know if it is just a strained muscle and wouldn't be necessary. Do you have any suggestions?
    • Kate Setter
      Kate Setter September 16, 11:51
      Hi Joy - I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Because the pain seems to be associated with physical activity, making an appointment is probably the right next step. Your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation with his doctor.
  49. Naomi September 10, 23:40
    My 9 yr old. Daughter is complaining of left chest pain. It hurts her to breath in and out.the pain comes and goes and she refers to it as a stinging feeling. It hurts worse after activity and while she's sitting. This has been going on for a couple months now.
    • Kate Setter
      Kate Setter September 16, 11:47
      Hi Naomi - I think Dr. Madsen’s video at the top of this blog post will help provide you with some clarity. Only about 1% of children and teens with chest pain will have an underlying heart problem. If you still have concerns, contact your regular doctor and your answers to the above questions can help guide your conversation.
  50. Mona September 11, 14:12
    hello Dr. My 9 yr old daughter started complaining about itching and burning sensation on her chest a week back. I thought it was a rash, but did not see any hives, bites or redness. It is on her chest between her nipples on the sternum and around that area. She cannot really tell me if the pain in inside or on the surface. The pain and burning sensation is always there, but she says distraction helps. She missed one day of school but is generally active. She has not been injured in the area, but did have cold-like or allergy-like symptoms with a bit of cough, sore throat and puffy eyes. She also complains occasionally of pain in her legs and arms. I gave her Benadryl then switched her to Zyrtec once a day ( after talking to the nurse) and apply hydrocortisone 1%. She still complains of burning and like someone is beating her on her chest. We live in the Bay Area which is quite dry. Please advise...than you.
    • Kate Setter
      Kate Setter September 16, 11:46
      Hi Mona - If you've already watched Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post and that didn't help answer your questions, I am confident his next recommendation would be to have your daughter checked by her regular doctor. You can use your answers to the questions above to help guide your conversation with him or her.