Chest pain and diarrhea are common symptoms that may occur together. However, they are often symptoms of different conditions as only a few rare conditions link the two symptoms.

Only a few rare illnesses cause chest pain and diarrhea. For example, people with Whipple disease, a bacterial infection, may have both symptoms. Experts estimate the overall incidence as 1–3 for every million people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Coxiella burnetii, another bacterial infection, may cause chest pain and diarrhea. The common name for this infection is Q fever, and it is usually associated with people who work with goats, sheep, and cattle.

However, chest pain can be a symptom of a heart attack, so a person experiencing chest pain with or without diarrhea may need to consult a doctor.

This article explores some conditions that may cause chest pain or diarrhea. It also highlights the signs of a heart attack and explains when to seek medical help.

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A 2022 paper describes chest pain as visceral or somatic. Experts explain that people experience visceral pain as deep, dull pain that feels constricting or squeezing. People with somatic pain may describe it as stabbing or sharp.

The American Heart Association (AHA) stresses the importance of recognizing heart attack symptoms and getting medical attention quickly. However, the AHA stresses that chest pain does not automatically mean a person is having a heart attack.

Other causes of chest pain include:

Learn more about causes of chest pain.

Is it a heart attack?

Heart attacks occur when there is a lack of blood supply to the heart. Symptoms include:

  • chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • pain that may spread to arms, neck, jaw, or back
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweaty or clammy skin
  • heartburn or indigestion
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing or wheezing
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack

If someone has these symptoms:

  1. Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
  2. Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.

If a person stops breathing before emergency services arrive, perform manual chest compressions:

  1. Lock fingers together and place the base of hands in the center of the chest.
  2. Position shoulders over hands and lock elbows.
  3. Press hard and fast, at a rate of 100–120 compressions per minute, to a depth of 2 inches.
  4. Continue these movements until the person starts to breathe or move.
  5. If needed, swap over with someone else without pausing compressions.

Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) available in many public places:

  1. An AED provides a shock that may restart the heart.
  2. Follow the instructions on the defibrillator or listen to the guided instructions.
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Doctors diagnose a person with diarrhea if they pass loose, watery stools three or more times per day, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The most likely causes are infections, food allergies or intolerances, and digestive tract disorders.

Possible causes of diarrhea include:

Learn about foods to eat for diarrhea.

Chest pain is one of the telltale signs of a heart attack. Anyone experiencing pain, squeezing, or discomfort lasting more than a few minutes in the center or left-hand side of their chest needs medical attention.

They should also seek medical help if the pain spreads across their jaw, neck, arms, and back or if they are experiencing shortness of breath.

The NIDDK warns that people with diarrhea are at risk of dehydration, especially if their diarrhea lasts longer than a few days. A person should contact a doctor if:

Chest pain and diarrhea are common symptoms of different conditions. Only a few rare conditions link the two symptoms.

There are many reasons people experience chest pain and diarrhea. Anyone experiencing chest pain that lasts longer than a few minutes or keeps coming back must contact a doctor.

If a person has severe diarrhea for longer than 2 days or if they are becoming dehydrated, they will also require medical assistance.