Gas is normally swallowed while talking, laughing, and eating. It can also occur as a byproduct of digesting foods like meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. Other causes of gas accumulation include the intake of some health supplements and medicines, changes in hormonal levels that lead to bloating, and some medical conditions like bowel obstruction or Crohn's disease.
Gas is usually passed without pain through the mouth or the anus. When it is associated with functional dyspepsia, a condition with no particular cause, chest pain may result. Functional dyspepsia or indigestion is a condition characterized by bloating and frequent belching. It produces a non-ulcer like pain that can be felt as a burning sensation (heartburn) or discomfort in the upper abdomen or lower chest. This is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack, hence the misnomer, heartburn.
Gas in the stomach can also cause chest pain when associated with a condition called gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), where stomach contents are washed back up or refluxed into the esophagus. If this happens often, stomach acids may damage the lining of the esophagus, resulting in heartburn.
A less common cause of chest pain that comes from gas is a perforated viscus - a hole or tear in the wall of any part of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach or intestine. This allows air to enter the space in the abdomen, which causes irritation of the diaphragm and leads to chest pain.
A spontaneous pneumothorax or a collapsed lung allows air to escape to the space between the chest wall and the lung. When this happens, the lung collapses and chest pain along with difficulty breathing may occur.
Chest pains may not be easy to diagnose, so it is best to seek medical help. While stomach gas is a common cause of chest pain that is easily treatable, other causes of chest pains such as a heart attack, perforated viscus, or pneumothorax are medical emergencies that must be immediately recognized and treated.
Can gas cause chest pain? If stomach gas is the cause of chest pains, you may prevent it by changing your eating and drinking habits. Discomfort may be avoided by eating less gas-producing foods like beans and legumes, artichokes, asparagus, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, peas, radishes, and sweet potatoes. Fruits like apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, prunes, and apples can also increase stomach gas. Other foods that can cause gas pains include dairy products, eggs, wheat and bran, fatty foods, sugary foods, and products that contain lactose. Carbonated drinks, beer, fruit drinks, and red wine must also be avoided to prevent belching and gas pains.
Relief from gases causing chest pain may be obtained by taking simethicone (Gas-X and Mylicon), which helps dissolve gas bubbles. Antacids may also help neutralize acidity from the stomach that causes chest pains.
Chest pain is a common symptom that causes fear or alarm for some people since it is often associated with a heart attack. Yet there are many reasons why one may experience chest pain, making it potentially difficult to diagnose.
Since the chest is a large part of the upper body that includes parts of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems, chest pain can originate from many places. Beyond simply wondering can gas cause chest pain, you must also beware of the more serious causes of chest pain.