Pain under the left breast could be a sign of serious complications such as heart attack or cancer. However, the majority of people who experience this pain have no cause for concern. By knowing the most common causes of pain under the left breast, you can be informed and know how to deal with it.
Is it an emergency?
Most of the pain under the left breast is not an emergency. There are some cases, however, which require an immediate visit to the doctor.
If the pain under the left breast is accompanied by blood in the sputum, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite, you should definitely see a doctor.
If the pain under the left breast is not an emergency, you can learn to manage it yourself using home treatment options. It will depend on what is causing the pain.
Causes of Pain Under the Left Breast
1. Heart attack
Heart attack is the most common cause of chest pain under the left breast. It occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked due to plaque accumulation in the arteries.
A heart attack is considered mild when it causes minimal or no pain under the left breast. It is considered severe when the pain is severe and causes the left arm to hurt.
Symptoms of Heart Attack
- Pain in one or both arms.
- Chest pain worsens when you take a deep breath, cough, or exert yourself.
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold sweats
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
- Weakness in your face, arm, or leg
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of your body.
These symptoms may differ for each person, so it is important to pay attention to your body.
Call for help immediately if you experience symptoms of a heart attack. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with your symptoms. If your symptoms don’t go away or get worse, then seek medical attention.
Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds your heart. Underneath the pericardium is a fluid called pericardial fluid, and when this gets inflamed, it causes pain in the left side of your chest. If you have pericarditis, then you will likely also experience a fever and chills.
Beside chest pain, which is the most common symptom of pericarditis, there could be other symptoms present:
- Abdominal or leg swelling
- Fatigue or general feeling of weakness or being sick
- Low-grade fever
- Pounding or racing heartbeat (heart palpitations)
- Shortness of breath when lying down.
If you experience symptoms suspicious of pericarditis you should consult your doctor. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with the pain. Bed rest until you recover from your illness is important to prevent further irritation of the pericardium. If these treatments don’t work, then your doctor may prescribe steroids to reduce the inflammation.
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds your lungs and lines the inner wall of the chest cavity. When the membrane is inflamed, it causes sharp chest pain, which can get worse when you breathe. Pleurisy is often caused by pneumonia or a viral infection, but it can also be brought on by cancer or autoimmune conditions such as lupus.
- Sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe in or cough
- Shortness of breath
- Blood clots
- Stomach pain
If you experience symptoms suspicious of pleurisy you should consult your doctor. Take over-the-counter painkillers to help with the pain. Bed rest until your symptoms subside is important because it helps reduce inflammation.
4. Bacterial Infection
An infection in the breast area can cause pain under the left breast. S. aureus, also known as staph infections, are common and can be serious if not treated with antibiotics, and sometimes surgery is needed.
- Swollen, red, or painful area of the breast
- Warmth in the area of the breast.
- Flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, and fatigue.
- A yellowish fluid coming from an infected area on the skin.
If you suspect that you may have a bacterial infection, then seek immediate medical attention. Antibiotics will be prescribed to take care of the infection. If it is severe, then surgery may be needed to drain or remove any abscesses.
5. Precordial Catch Syndrome
Precordial catch syndrome is a sharp, stabbing pain felt in the chest and sometimes even down your arm. The cause of precordial catch syndrome is unknown, but it has been linked to stress and anxiety and muscular tension or irritation in the upper rib cage region.
- Sharp, stabbing pain that comes and goes on one side of the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Burning sensation in the upper back
- Tightness in the chest wall
- Muscle twitching around the painful area
If you experience above symptoms you should consult your doctor to rule out other more serious causes. Use over-the-counter analgesics to help with pain relief.
This condition can also be brought on by injuries, bacterial infections, viral infections, hormonal conditions, and stress. It is typically described as sharp or dull chest pain that worsens with movement, coughing, deep breathing, and sneezing.
- Sharp pain in one or more of your chest walls, especially when inhaling or coughing
- Tenderness or swelling of the rib cage
- Stiffness in your chest
- Muscle spasms around the injured area
The treatment of costochondritis depends on the severity of your pain. Self-care measures are usually enough to ease the pain. Your doctor may prescribe medications for you to take, which could include over-the-counter painkillers, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics.
Heartburn is a burning pain also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This occurs when stomach acid or bile backs up into the esophagus.
The most common symptom is pain under the left breast that comes and goes over time. Other symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.
This usually happens when someone lies down or bends over. The pain may be worse after meals. Chills, fever, and sweating are also possible symptoms.
Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production and help wash acid down into your stomach. Stay away from foods and substances that bring heartburn, such as caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, fatty or fried foods. Eat small portions of food at a time to help prevent reflux.
8. Blood Clot (Pulmonary Embolism)
A pulmonary embolism is life-threatening because it interrupts blood flow to your lungs. It occurs when a blood clot that starts in your leg or pelvis breaks loose travels through your blood vessels and lodges in the pulmonary artery.
- Sudden chest pain that worsens on taking a deep breath or coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid heart rate
- Severe anxiety or lightheadedness
Go to the hospital immediately if you experience symptoms of a blood clot. Your doctor will prescribe blood-thinning medication like heparin to reduce the chance of another blood clot.
When to see a doctor?
If your pain under the left breast is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, coughing, or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention. If you feel faint or dizzy, it’s also important to get help from a medical professional.
You can prevent this symptom by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough rest. It would be best if you also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol excessively. If you notice any changes in your breast, such as lumps, pain, or redness, go to the doctor immediately so that he can prescribe treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does pancreatic pain feel like?
Pancreatic pain is quite different from other symptoms. Instead of being sharp or aching, it can feel like pressure all over your abdomen.
What causes fluttering under the left breast?
Fluttering under the left breast is usually caused by the heart beating faster than normal. The medical term for this is tachycardia. Tachycardia is more common in people who have heart problems. People with tachycardia often feel fluttering under their left breast or just below the left part of their ribcage.
Can you get gas pains under your left breast?
Gas pains under your left breast may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn is one of the symptoms of GERD. It is caused when bile and stomach acid back up into your esophagus.
If you have pain under your left breast, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The location of the onset and duration of this type of pain can help determine what underlying condition is causing it.
There are no identifiable causes for the pain in some cases, so don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Symptoms such as shortness of breath or swelling around the chest should also prompt immediate action because they could indicate other serious health conditions like heart disease.
Please don’t wait until these symptoms worsen before taking them seriously; remember that early detection saves lives.