Does 5 Year Old Chest Pain Indicate Heart Problems?

It can be scary when a child feels chest pain, but it is more common than thought. When it is strong enough it leaves him breathless, you should get it checked out. However, keep in mind almost all children referred to a specialist for chest pain do not have heart issues. Worried about 5 year old chest pain complaint? It is unlikely to be heart disease as pain in this area is not a typical symptom of this type of condition in a child.

Whats Going on When Your 5-Year Old Complains of Chest Pain?

There are several reasons a young child may be complaining of chest pain, with heart problems being very unlikely.

  • Pneumonia. When a 5 year old chest pain complaint is accompanied with a persistent cough, your child might be suffering from pneumonia. Other symptoms include those similar to a common cold, but keep getting worse, as well as fever, stomach pain, wheezing, headache, labored breathing, reduced appetite and overall uneasiness or fussiness.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). Just like an adult, when a child suffers from acid reflux or GERD, he may suffer from chest pain. It is usually accompanied by a sore throat, and even vomiting. It is worse after eating and when lying down.
  • Bone or muscle injury. Your chest muscles and rib bones can become sore sure due to a bad cough. They can also hurt if your child suffers an injury to the area. This is often seen in sports or after rough play.
  • Anxiety or stress. If your child tends to worry, he may develop a pain in his chest, especially when upset or overly concerned about an upcoming event like a doctor’s appointment or music recital.
  • Asthma can put a strain on your child’s chest due to coughing and shortness of breath. Often, it may become worse after strenuous activity, crying or at night.
  • Puberty. Young girls starting puberty can experience chest pain as their breasts start to develop. It is common to find a lump under a girl’s nipple, but this is only a sign of normal development. Nowadays, girls as young as 6 are starting to show the signs of puberty.
  • Swallowing foreign object. First, if your child has swallowed a foreign object and is having problems breathing, call 911 right away. With that said, if your child swallows something small that is not blocking her airways, for example, a dime or penny, she may experience chest pain. This is caused by the irritation of it going down her throat. It may also cause wheezing or coughing.

Still Concerned? Figure Out These Questions First

1. Has Your Child Been Ill Recently?

A common cause of chest pain in a child is from inflammation of the joints of the ribs and breastbone. The condition, referred to as costochondritis, is often caused by a frequent cough or a viral illness. Generally, it is not something to be overly concerned about, but if it persists you may need to take your doctor for prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medication.

2. Has Your Child Suffered from a Recent Injury?

Sometimes an obvious injury during a sporting event or physical activity can easily explain why your child is having chest pain. However, even less strenuous exercise can cause pain in this area. Weight lifting, aerobics, lifting a heaving item, or having a bad cough can also strain muscles in your child’s ribs and chest. If the pain worsens, is severe or your child is having a hard time breathing, call your doctor right away.

3. When Is It Most Painful?

Knowing what activity a 5 year old chest pain complaint is associated with can help considerably in diagnosing the cause. Ask your child questions like does it hurt when he is running around or when he is sitting down. Ask if the pain happens when watching TV or reading a book or when participating in a sport or gym class. If the pain occurs at rest or when active, it is most likely not a cardiac issue. However, if the pain occurs immediately after activity, you should see your doctor for evaluation.

4. Is Your Child Under Stress?

Stress affects a child’s health, just as it does adults. Often it manifests as chest pain, and although this is not cause for medical concern, it does not lessen the worry for parents. When dealing with chest pain due to stress, it helps to compare it to a stress induced headache. It is not more harmful, yet still worrisome.

5. How Long Has Your Child Experienced This Pain?

If your child has experiencing chest pain for several months or years, it is unlikely it is caused by heart disease or other cardiac conditions. This does not mean it is something to be ignored. If your child continues to suffer from the pain, you should take him to a doctor for a medical exam. If the underlying cause can be identified, there may be relief from the discomfort.

6. How Bad Is the Pain? Is It Mild, Moderate or Severe?

If the pain is severe, it warrants immediate attention. A cause of a 5 year old chest pain that is extreme and cardiac-related is pericarditis. This condition occurs when the heart become inflamed. However, keep in mind the condition is very rare. When it does occur, it usually happens about the same time of another illness or it is a continuous and obvious pain. You should take your child to the doctor immediately. On the other hand, if the chest pain is mild or moderate, it is most likely not a cardiac condition.

When to Worry

The level of concern depends on the condition of your child and how much pain he or she appears to be in. If there are any breathing issues and your child is having difficulty breathing, call 911 right away.

However, if a 5 year old chest pain comes and goes, then most likely you do not have to worry. If it continues to occur, for example off and on over the course of an hour or throughout the day, it is best you get it checked out by his doctor.

If your child is showing other symptoms that might be related to another illness or condition like GERD, asthma, an injury, pneumonia or the swallowing of a foreign object, you should contact a medical profession right away.

If you have to take your child to the doctor, be prepared for a physical exam. Most likely, the doctor will listen to his heart and chest with a stethoscope, as well as feel and press around the chest area. This helps determine if the pain is associated with the heart, lungs, muscles or skin, as well as other possibilities.

If the doctor cannot determine the cause with a physical exam, he may order a chest x-ray, EKG or other imaging diagnostic tests. This will allow him to see if there is a foreign object, lung infection or possible heart problems.

After the tests are completed, your child’s doctor should be able to diagnose the cause of the chest pain and recommend treatment. In some cases, he may refer you to a specialist.