Chest Pain on Right Side: Common Causes and Treatments
The chest is a central part of our body which holds many vital organs like heart, lungs, and some important blood vessels. Right side chest pain can be an alarming situation as it can be a symptom of heart attack. However, there are several other reasons why you suddenly experience chest pain right side.
It is estimated that almost one-fourth of the US population suffers chest pain that has no connection with their heart. Pain in the chest can also be caused by muscle strain, blood clot, lung inflammation and digestion issues. These conditions can sometimes turn to be more severe and life threatening, and hence it is important to visit your doctor when you have an unexplained right side chest pain.
What Causes Right Side Chest Pain?
Chest pain on the right side can come from different reasons or conditions. Some of these conditions can be treated with home remedies, and some needed a doctor’s evaluation or immediate medical attention. Here are some causes of right side chest pains.
1. Muscle Strain
Strained muscles can cause chest pain right side. The strain comes from torn muscle fibers or ligaments in the chest’s walls. Some examples of activities that can cause damage or strain are overreaching, sudden movement, lifting, frequent coughing, or physical exertion.
Pain on the right side is common because people are typically right-handed, and it ranges from mild to severe. The pain can increase if the area is touched or moved. A doctor can diagnose chest wall pain and to rule out other conditions. Rest and medications can ease the pain over time.
2. Trauma to Chest
Injury to the chest is another cause of pain on right side. A strike to the chest could potentially damage the rib cage or the organs protected by the rib cage. Pain in right side of the chest can also come from damaged liver or kidneys which may last up to several days. The pain can increase with sneezing, coughing, or breathing.
3. Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot)
Pulmonary embolism can cause severe right side chest pain. The most common cause of pulmonary embolism is the blood clots that develop in the veins outside the lungs. When the blood clots enter the left or right lung, it will cause the pain in the chest. Pulmonary embolism is a severe, life-threatening condition and an immediate medical attention is required (1).
4. Collapsed Lung
Collapsed lung or Pneumothorax is another reason why your right side chest pains. When the left or right lung collapses, it may cause sharp chest pains on that side. Asthma, chest injury, tuberculosis or cystic fibrosis are the main causes of pneumothorax. Some of the severe symptoms of collapsed lung include:
- Chest pain that gets worse by coughing
- Tightness in your chest
- Rapid heart rate
A collapsed lung can be life-threatening and should be checked by a doctor to determine severity.
5. Heart Attack
A heart attack can sometimes produce chest pain on right side. In women, chest pains feel more like squeezing (2). Other symptoms of heart attack are cold sweats, irregular heartbeat, nausea, shortness of breath, spreading pain, and vomiting. Emergency medical attention is needed if a heart attack is a suspect of the pains.
Shingles do cause chest pain on right side. It is a painful skin rash caused by varicella-zoster, the same virus that prompts chicken pox.
The right side chest pains when nerves under the skin, attached to the chest, are attacked by the virus. The symptoms of shingles affect a small section of one side of your body. Common symptoms include:
- Skin sensitive to touch
- Pain, tingling, numbness, and burning
- Fluid-filled blisters
- A red rash
7. Digestive Issues
Indigestion and other digestive problems can cause chest pain. Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), heartburn are to blame for right side chest pain.
Pneumonia can trigger right side chest pain when the right lung gets infected. It is a lung inflammation that is often caused by bacterial infection. Severe coughing is one of the main symptoms of pneumonia, and it can worsen the chest pain (3).
If you have a history of strokes, there are high chances of developing right side chest pain by pneumonia. Stroke-related pneumonia often develops on the right side chest rather than the left side. Symptoms include fever and shaking chills. Pneumonia is a life-threatening illness which needs emergency medical attention and supervision.
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that produces enzymes for the digestive system. It can cause drilling pain in right side chest. The pain increases when the person is lying down (4).
The causes of pancreatitis are a back-up for enzymes from pancreas malfunction or gallstones. Other symptoms include bloating, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Medical attention is needed if the pain does not go away within a few days.
Symptoms of Chest Pain on Right Side
There is a possibility of other symptoms depending on the condition causing the right side chest pain. The symptoms range from mild to severe.
- Acid reflux
- Breathing difficulty
- Burning sensation
- Swallowing difficulty
Health Complications of Chest Pain on Right Side
You may experience other symptoms associated with chest pain on right side. It depends on the health condition or impairment related to the pain. The symptoms go away once the underlying condition is solved.
- Burning sensation coming from underneath the breastbone
- Acid reflux backed into the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Breathing that is painful while lying down
- Chest pains when moving around
Natural Treatments for Chest Pain on Right Side
The pain caused by heart problems must be treated with prescribed medications. Following are the home remedies that can help treat the minor causes like muscle strains and digestive issues.
GERD or Acid Reflux pain happens right after eating. These conditions can cause intense chest pain. It is common for individuals to feel better after eating a handful of almonds or drinking a cup of almond milk (5) (6).
This method is based on people’s claims, and there is little scientific information to prove it. Almonds do have alkaline properties, and alkaline is known as a natural anti-inflammatory. Though almonds are also a natural source of fat, and fat prompts reflux for some individuals.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) is another natural remedy for acid reflux. One reason for acid reflux is a lack of stomach acid before eating. People who take apple cider vinegar before eating are supplementing their stomachs with acid to break down food (7).
Like almonds, there little scientific information to back this claim. It’s based on people’s experiences. Take one tablespoon of vinegar with a glass of water before meals. Apple cider may thin the blood, so precaution should be taken if you are also taking the blood thinners.
3. Cold Compress
The cold compress or ice packs are helpful to treat the muscle strains and inflammation. Muscle strains are caused by trauma strenuous activities, such as weightlifting, falling, or carrying a heavy object. Conditions that cause inflammation could benefit from cold compress.
How to Prevent Chest Pain on Right Side and Promote Heart Health
Some home remedies do not produce immediate results but can prevent future chest pain on right side. Some of the remedies promote heart health and decrease the chance of heart conditions. Lifestyle changes are an example of preventative measures. Some of those changes include exercise, healthy diet, and not smoking.
Certain supplements are a preventative tool because they keep the heart healthy. Supplements should come from a credible supplier because the quality varies.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids benefit your health in different ways. The help:
- Reduce risk of heart arrhythmias
- Lower the triglyceride levels
- Reduce Atherosclerosis
- Lowers blood pressure
The primary source of omega-3s is the fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Recommended dosage is two servings of fish per week. You can also take fish oil or other sources of omega-3 oils as a substitute for fish.
Garlic promotes heart health in a number of ways. Years of research proves extracted garlic helps prevent and lessen plaque build-up in the arteries and decrease the chance of heart disease and conditions. The downside is people do not favor fresh garlic because it causes bad breath. In that case, garlic capsules are a suitable substitute. Some tablets come as odor-free (7).
3. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants that help balance cholesterol levels and keep the arteries healthy. The antioxidants in pomegranates take out the bad cholesterol. The juice lessens plaque build-up on arteries’ wall and promotes a better flow of blood. Lastly, drinking pomegranate juice can also lower your blood pressure (8).
Spicy food items that are rich in the capsaicin chemical can help your heart by:
- Decreasing the progression of atherosclerosis
- Reducing risk of metabolic syndrome
- Lowering blood pressure
- Controlling sugar levels
- Reducing danger of thickened heart muscles
- Promoting weight loss
Chest Pain Right Side: When to See Your Doctor?
You should seek an urgent medical attention if you couldn’t find the exact cause for the right side chest pain. Seeking immediate attention is the next step if over-the-counter pain medication or home remedies do not alleviate chest pain.
Visit your doctor when you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Chills or fever
- Constant, extreme chest pain
- Coughing up phlegm that is yellow or green in color
- Difficulty swallowing
If you experience the following symptoms, seek a professional medical help immediately:
- Accelerated heart rate, disorientation, excessive sweating, lightheadedness, nausea, and pale skin
- Chest pain that spreads to the jaw, left arm, or back
- Extremely low blood pressure or heart rate
- Sudden piercing chest pain coupled with breathing difficulties without physical activity
- Sudden crushing weight under breastbone with tightness and pressure