5 causes of a sore throat and chest pain
A variety of health conditions can cause a sore throat and chest pain. Although most of these issues are not serious, some require medical attention.In this article, we explore conditions that can cause chest pain and a sore throat. We also look at the accompanying symptoms of each issue and describe home remedies and other treatment options.
1. The common cold
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an adult tends to experience roughly 2–3 colds a year, while a child may catch a cold even more often.
A sore throat is a common symptom, and some people also experience chest pain.
Other symptoms of a cold can include:
- body aches
- a runny nose
People typically recover after 7–10 days. However, those with asthma, other respiratory conditions, or weakened immune systems may develop complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
Although treatment cannot cure a cold, it can help ease the symptoms.
To help speed the healing process and reduce symptoms, a person should:
- get lots of rest
- drink plenty of fluids
- take over-the-counter medications
However, a person should talk to a doctor or pharmacist before trying a new cold medication.
2. GERD and acid reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux — more commonly called acid reflux — occurs when acid in the stomach rises up into the esophagus, the tubular structure connecting the throat to the stomach.
If acid reflux occurs frequently, more than twice a week for a few weeks in a row, a person may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
When a person with GERD does not receive treatment, it can cause complications, such as esophagitis, which is inflammation of the esophagus.
Common symptoms of GERD include:
- regular heartburn
- a different painful, burning feeling in the center of the chest
- pain in the upper abdomen
- difficulty swallowing or pain while swallowing
- bad breath
- respiratory issues
- erosion of the teeth
Certain strategies can help manage GERD symptoms, including:
- avoiding spicy or greasy foods
- maintaining a healthy weight
- avoiding smoking
- not eating 2–3 hours before bedtime
- taking over-the-counter antacids
A doctor may recommend treatments such as prescription medications, lifestyle changes, or a referral to a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, asthma affects about 26 million people in the United States.
The symptoms can be so mild that a person may not even know that they have asthma. For some people, however, the symptoms are more severe.
Some symptoms of asthma include:
- coughing — often at night, when laughing, or during or after exercise
- chest tightness
- trouble breathing
- shortness of breath
An itchy or scratchy throat can be a warning sign of an asthma attack.
Learn what to do when someone is having an asthma attack here.
Typical treatments for asthma include long-term control medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, and quick-relief medications, such as short-acting beta-agonists.
It is important to:
- Discuss medication options thoroughly with a doctor.
- Identify and avoid asthma triggers.
- Carry a quick-relief inhaler, if necessary.
Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed.
In some cases, the sacs fill with fluid or pus, which can result in symptoms such as a cough and difficulty breathing. People with viral pneumonia may also have a sore throat.
Some other common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- a fever
- quick, shallow breathing
- shortness of breath
- a loss of appetite
A doctor will develop a treatment plan, which may include antibiotics if bacteria are the cause of the infection.
The doctor may recommend other treatments and home care techniques, including:
- drinking plenty of fluids
- taking over-the-counter medication to relieve any fever
- breathing in the steam from a hot bath or shower
- drinking hot beverages
- using a humidifier
5. Acute bronchitis
Bronchitis occurs when the main air passages to the lungs, the bronchi, become inflamed.
Acute bronchitis can be caused by the same viruses that cause colds. In this case, a person may experience a sore throat, a runny nose, chest pain, or a combination.
Other symptoms may include:
- shortness of breath
- a cough
- a slight fever
- a tickling feeling and pain in the throat
- disrupted sleep
- a rattling sensation in the chest
Symptoms of acute bronchitis typically resolve in 7–14 days.
Taking decongestants and drinking plenty of fluids can help ease the symptoms.
For stubborn or severe symptoms, a doctor may recommend a bronchodilator — a type of medication that opens the air passages. These medications are often delivered via inhalers