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
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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.
Other causes of chest pain include:
- gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)
- pulmonary embolism
- strained muscles, particularly the intercostal muscles that line the chest walls
- pneumothorax, or collapsed lung
- broken, or bruised ribs
- aortic dissection
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:
- Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
- Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.
If a person stops breathing before emergency services arrive, perform manual chest compressions:
- Lock fingers together and place the base of hands in the center of the chest.
- Position shoulders over hands and lock elbows.
- Press hard and fast, at a rate of 100–120 compressions per minute, to a depth of 2 inches.
- Continue these movements until the person starts to breathe or move.
- If needed, swap over with someone else without pausing compressions.
Use an automatic external defibrillator (AED) available in many public places:
- An AED provides a shock that may restart the heart.
- Follow the instructions on the defibrillator or listen to the guided instructions.
Doctors diagnose a person with diarrhea if they pass loose, watery stools
Possible causes of diarrhea include:
- viral infections, including norovirus and viral gastroenteritis
- bacterial infections, including Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli
- parasitic infections, including Giardia
- food allergies and intolerances, including lactose and fructose intolerance
- reactions to some artificial sweeteners in sugar-free candies and sodas, such as sorbitol
- digestive disorders, including celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- reactions to some medications, including chemotherapy medications and antibiotics
- reactions to abdominal surgery
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
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.
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.