Why does my chest hurt when I swallow?

Answer

According to MedlinePlus, chest pain while swallowing can indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition that causes undigested stomach contents to move backward into the esophagus. Common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease include painful swallowing, a feeling that food is lodged behind the breastbone, nausea and heartburn. Early gastroesophageal reflux disease is treated with antacids and medications that block the production of excess acid in the stomach.

WebMD explains that painful swallowing is a symptom of pericarditis, a condition in which the sac surrounding the heart becomes inflamed or infected. Additional symptoms include steady pain along the shoulder muscle and pain that becomes worse when lying on the back. It is important for individuals with unexplained chest pain to consult with a physician as soon as possible, as certain underlying causes can be life-threatening.

According to the Mayo Clinic, painful swallowing accompanied by pain behind the breastbone is common with esophagitis, a condition in which the esophagus becomes inflamed. Esophagitis is caused by acid reflux, allergies, oral medications and infections. Treatment of esophagitis depends on the specific underlying cause of the condition. Additional symptoms include nausea, vomiting, coughing and decreased appetite. It is important for individuals with esophagitis to consult a health professional if symptoms are not relieved with antacids or are accompanied by fever, headache or muscle aches.

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