Seasonal allergies are caused by over-sensitivity to certain airborne substances, such as pollen from flowering plants or trees, mold spores from fungi, or animal pet dander. It is common to experience allergies when the seasons change, and these allergies often affect the eyes, nose, throat, and sometimes chest.
Can Allergies Cause Chest Pain?
Reactions to allergens can vary significantly from person to person but usually consist of inflammation which can cause chest tightness due to increased mucus production. This reaction results from the chemicals released into the body’s bloodstream in response to coming into contact with allergens.
These chemicals and other allergic symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and an itchy throat, are triggers for chest pain. Allergens can also cause inflammation in the airways, resulting in conditions such as asthma or bronchitis that can produce chest pain as a common symptom. A severe asthma attack could even lead to a tightening and a squeezing feeling in the chest or difficulty breathing.
How Do Allergies Cause Chest Pains?
Seasonal allergies affect everybody differently. The resulting reactions can lead to uncomfortable side effects, including chest pain. Chest pain can be a mild symptom, or it can be extremely severe and require attention. Let’s explore the most common ways you can get chest pains from seasonal allergies.
Asthma is an allergic reaction to certain triggers such as dust, pet dander, and pollen. When these triggers are present in the air, your body responds by having an asthma attack. During an attack, you may experience asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. These may lead to chest pains as your airway constricts and your lungs struggle to get enough oxygen.
Allergic reactions often cause post-nasal drip, which is when mucus accumulates in the back of your throat and then drips down into your esophagus or even into your lungs. This mucus can make it difficult to breathe properly, which can lead to chest pain or discomfort when breathing.
Another allergy-related ailment that can cause chest pain is bronchitis. When a person has an allergic reaction, it can trigger bronchitis due to inflammation of the airways, causing excess mucus production and difficulty breathing. The resulting chest pain is often described as a burning sensation or pressure in the chest area.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs when a person’s body overreacts to an allergen they have been exposed to. It produces large amounts of histamine throughout the body. It causes swelling and inflammation in various areas, including the lungs and throat, leading to difficulty breathing and potentially serious chest pain.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus due to improper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, which separates your stomach from your throat (also known as heartburn). Seasonal allergies may worsen this condition by increasing stomach acid production leading to more intense heartburn symptoms such as sharp chest pains or pressure felt in the chest area.
Seasonal allergies can also cause sinus infections which occur when mucus builds up behind your nose and sinuses due to inflammation. Mucus build-up results in nose and chest congestion, headaches, facial pain, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, fatigue, fever, and pressure felt in the cheeks or forehead, which may extend into the chest area. Of course, this may depend on how severe your infection is.
Pleurisy is an inflammatory condition that affects the lining of your lungs. It is caused when something such as a virus, bacteria, or even an allergen irritates this lining, like pollen or pet dander. When the lining becomes inflamed, it causes sharp chest pains when you breathe in deeply or cough — although the pain may also spread to your shoulder or back. It can be treated with anti-inflammatories and antibiotics if needed.
Pneumonitis is another condition caused by seasonal allergies, which affects the air sacs in your lungs. These sacs are filled with air which helps us breathe normally, but when they become inflamed due to an allergy, it can cause breathing difficulties and severe chest pains. Allergens such as dust mites and mold spores tend to cause this type of inflammation.
What Does Allergy Chest Pain Feel Like?
You can get chest pain from allergies, but what does that chest pain feel like? Most people report feeling chest tightness as if someone were standing on their rib cage or squeezing it tightly. Some report a sharp or burning sensation in the center of their chest.
Others experience pressure from the inside out as if something is pushing up against their sternum from within.
The discomfort can come and go throughout the day, while other times, it may be experienced throughout the day. Some sufferers have described a burning or itching feeling similar to heartburn, while others report a general unease that is difficult to pinpoint.
How Long Does Allergy Chest Pain Last?
The intensity and duration of the chest pain will vary depending on the severity of the allergy and ultimately will come down to an individual’s specific case. Typically, the chest pain associated with seasonal allergies can last from minutes to days or weeks for chronic sufferers.
For example, suppose pollen allergy causes chest pain in a person who is extremely sensitive to this irritant. In that case, the allergy symptoms could last much longer when compared to someone less sensitive or sitting in a low-pollen environment.
What Else Causes Chest Pain?
While seasonal allergies are a common cause of chest pain, other culprits may be behind your discomfort. Other infections, diseases, and conditions also result in chest pain, which can vary in duration and intensity. Here are other causes of chest pain besides allergies.
Angina is chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. It is often described as a squeezing sensation and is triggered by exertion or stress, which increases your heart rate and makes it difficult for sufficient oxygen-rich blood to reach your heart. Angina can also be triggered by eating certain foods, drinking alcohol, or taking certain medications, such as nitroglycerin.
A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. It's usually caused by a blood clot that has traveled from another part of your body (usually from a vein in your leg). Typical symptoms include sudden sharp chest pains that worsen when you take deep breaths or cough.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is an umbrella term for diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis that cause difficulty breathing due to airway inflammation and obstruction. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can result in chest pain because the condition makes it hard to properly fill the lungs with air, leading to increased pressure in the chest cavity.
Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries in your lungs. This pressure increases the workload on your heart, causing strain on your entire cardiovascular system as well as localized chest pain.
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs caused by bacteria or viruses that inflame lung tissue and make breathing difficult. It can also lead to chest pain due to inflammation of the lining around the lungs, known as pleurisy.
A collapsed lung occurs when air accumulates between layers of tissue surrounding the lungs — the pleural space — and causes one or both lungs to deflate partially or completely. This condition can lead to severe chest pain that gets worse when breathing deeply or coughing. Additional symptoms include difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, and a bluish tint to skin or lips.
Chest Pain Symptoms
In what ways do allergies cause chest pains, and how do you know? Symptoms of chest pain caused by seasonal allergies may include a feeling of chest tightness or pressure, a burning sensation, stabbing pains felt abruptly, discomfort in the throat area, coughing, and shortness of breath.
These symptoms occur because an allergic reaction causes inflammation of the airways and makes it difficult for air to move freely through them. If you experience these allergy symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine if seasonal allergies are causing your pain.
Medical conditions such as asthma, anaphylaxis, or GERD may increase the risk of allergy-related chest pain. People with a family history of allergies may also be more likely to suffer from chest pain caused by their sensitivity to their environment. Smoking can also contribute because of the irritating effect smoke has on the lungs.
Surprisingly even healthy habits such as exercising may trigger a reaction if done in an environment rich in irritants such as pollen or dust particles. Regardless of why someone has chest pains, they must seek treatment immediately.
When to See a Doctor
Chest pains can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain. It’s important to know when the pain requires medical attention. If you experience any persistent or irregular chest pains or those accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea or sweating, a visit to your doctor is in order. Also, if you feel feverish and weak, experience difficulty breathing, and cough up blood, it’s important to visit your doctor immediately.
How Are Chest Pains Diagnosed?
Chest pain caused by seasonal allergies can be difficult to diagnose because the condition shares common symptoms with serious diseases like heart disease and pneumonia. Fortunately, there are several ways to diagnose chest pain from seasonal allergies accurately.
In some cases, doctors may recommend a chest X-ray or CT scan to rule out other serious conditions like a heart attack. Doctors might also recommend allergy testing. Allergy testing can help pinpoint the allergens triggering your symptoms.
The easiest way to find out your allergy triggers is by taking Wyndly’s at-home allergy test. Take our test today to identify exactly what you’re allergic to and find the best treatment plan for your allergies.
Chest Pains Treatment Options
If you’re one of the many individuals experiencing chest pain discomfort, there are several treatment options available to help alleviate your allergy symptoms. Here are the most effective treatment options for chest pain caused by seasonal allergies.
Antihistamines are one of the most common treatments for chest pain caused by allergies. Antihistamines work by temporarily blocking histamine, a substance your body releases when it comes in contact with an allergen it’s sensitive to. By blocking histamine, antihistamines temporarily reduce the severity of seasonal allergy symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes. However, they can also help to relieve chest pain associated with allergies.
Decongestants reduce inflammation in the airways, which can help relieve chest tightness and other respiratory symptoms related to seasonal allergies for short-term relief. Decongestants come in oral and nasal spray forms, so you can choose whichever works best for you. Be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any decongestant medications, as they may interact with other medications or health conditions you may have.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
SLIT is an effective treatment option for those experiencing chest pains due to seasonal allergies. SLIT involves placing drops or tablets containing small doses of allergens under the tongue daily to desensitize your body to them over time. This therapy is just as effective as traditional allergy shots when it comes to reducing seasonal allergy symptoms and improving the quality of life for those suffering from allergies.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
Are you feeling chest pains and suspect they’re allergy-related? If so, Wyndly’s allergy doctors can help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you long-term relief.
Take our quick online assessment today to get one step closer to lifelong allergy relief!