Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
There are many potential causes of chest pain with fever, though only a handful are very common. These include conditions like pneumonia, bronchitis, pleurisy, mononucleosis and certain heart infections. The other possible explanations for these symptoms are rare and sometimes quite serious, but even for common causes the underlying diseases can be significant. People experiencing these two symptoms should seek medical attention, as almost all explanations for them require treatment or monitoring by a physician.
At the top of the list of common causes of chest pain with fever are pneumonias in all forms. These can be bacterial, fungal or viral, and they all may require some treatment. Pneumonia is a concern because it can gradually impair lung function. People with pneumonia may also have other symptoms like extreme exhaustion, strong cough, lack of appetite and headaches.
Bronchitis is another cause of chest pain and fever, and might have symptoms like coughing up sputum, nasal congestion, tiredness, and muscle aches. It results when the airways swell, and it may be chronic, or it occurs as a complication of allergies, colds or flus. Pain may be worse when coughing occurs, but the chest could hurt at all times. Acute bronchitis is most often of bacterial origin and responds to antibiotics.
Pleurisy is a painful condition where the lining around the lungs becomes inflamed. This may be very painful, may cause cough and could be present with fever. Cause of this condition isn’t always clear and doctors may treat it in various ways, such as by using steroids to reduce inflammation or sometimes using antibiotics if they believe the origin of the condition is bacterial. It should be noted that some pleurisy cases don’t develop fever.
Though mononucleosis is most associated with sore throat and fatigue, some people are more likely to feel chest pain with fever. This could be complicated if swelling in the spleen is significant, which might create referred pain in the chest or pain in the lower chest. Though mono often heals without medicines, diagnosis rules out complications.
Another common cause of chest pain and fever is inflammation of the heart. Pericarditis affects the protective sac that covers the heart, and myocarditis affects the actual heart muscle. Either one of these conditions is potentially serious. Rheumatic fever, a complication of strep throat, is another potential generator of chest pain and fever and it can damage the heart if left untreated.
Less common causes of chest pain with fever may occur when people have most forms of lung cancer, bacterial endocarditis, lupus, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and tuberculosis. In rarer cases, a hernia may create referred pain in the chest or these symptoms indicate diseases like sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis. Upon exam, doctors tend to look to all symptoms, while studying patient history and possibly conducting tests to arrive at accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Although you should see your doctor anytime you have chest pain, chest pain with fever will probably be bronchitis 90 percent of the time, especially if you've had a cold or sinus infection you just couldn't seem to shake.
Antibiotics are about the only things that will cure bronchitis, although decongestants and expectorants will help clear the mucus out, which is what inflames the bronchial tubes, makes you cough, which makes your chest hurt, etc. It's a vicious circle.
But you do need to see a doctor. The last thing you want is for that bronchitis to turn into pneumonia, which is a nasty, nasty thing to deal with. Bronchitis will put you to bed for a day or two. Pneumonia will put you in the hospital.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!