What Does COVID Chest Pain Feel Like?


Apr 8, 2022


What does COVID chest pain feel like? Chest pain is an alarming symptom that can be indicative of a number of health conditions, including COVID-19. The feeling of chest pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp stab and even a crushing or burning sensation. With COVID, chest pain typically can be felt as a tightness in the chest that might stem from inflammation in the lungs.

Persistent COVID chest pain or pressure is listed by the CDC as an emergency symptom requiring urgent medical care. 

If you are experiencing chest pain or pressure that lasts longer than a couple of minutes or is accompanied by other emergency symptoms such as confusion or trouble breathing, call 911 or head into the emergency room regardless of whether or not your chest pain could be COVID-related.

Is chest pain a sign of COVID?

Although chest pain is a common symptom of COVID, as a standalone symptom, experiencing chest pain does not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. Pain in the chest can also be caused by cardiac issues or non-cardiac issues such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), a pulled chest muscle, or even panic attacks.

However, chest pain can be a sign of COVID when it is coupled with other symptoms such as:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 affecting the lungs? 

As mentioned, chest pain felt as a result of COVID-19 may be experienced due to the virus’s effect on the tissues in your heart and/or inflammation in your lungs. COVID-19 can also lead to lung conditions such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, or acute respiratory failure if left untreated.

If you are experiencing chest pain that could be caused by COVID-19, do not wait to seek emergency care.

Chest pain: anxiety or COVID?

So, what does COVID chest pain feel like in comparison to chest pain felt as a result of anxiety or a panic attack? The only surefire way to know what is causing your chest pain is to be examined by a medical provider. Before causing yourself more panic, there are some physical stress symptoms you can look for that will help you decide whether what you’re experiencing is a panic attack or a more serious symptom that requires emergency care.

Feeling anxiety causes the body to move into “fight or flight” mode, increasing tension in the muscles surrounding your heart and lungs and causing shortness of breath and/or chest pain. Experiencing anxiety can lead to sudden panic attacks characterized by chest pain, a rapid heart rate, trembling, and shortness of breath that lasts for around 10 minutes.

For your safety, you should never self-diagnose your own chest pain, especially if you have not previously suffered from anxiety or panic attacks. The symptoms of a panic attack are very similar to COVID emergency symptoms as well as symptoms of a heart attack. Therefore, you should always call your medical provider or seek emergency care if you are experiencing prolonged chest pain or pressure.

Keep reading: How to stop an anxiety attack

How to treat chest pain from COVID

Chest pain from COVID is considered an emergency symptom and should not be treated on your own. Severe infections can cause your body to release cytokines that can cause damage to your heart and lungs by creating inflammation in your heart otherwise known as myocarditis. 

How do I know if I should go to the ER for chest pain?

We hope by now you are aware that the best form of action for persistent chest pain or pressure is a trip to the emergency room. Chest pain in any form — whether it is a burning sensation in the chest or sharp stabbing pain — can be indicative of a serious underlying condition.

In regards to COVID specifically, persistent chest pain is considered an emergency symptom requiring medical attention especially when it is experienced alongside other COVID emergency symptoms including:

  • Trouble breathing
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nails

Worried about your chest pain? Head into a Complete Care 24/7 freestanding ER near you!

So, what does COVID chest pain feel like? COVID chest pain specifically can be described as a tightness, heaviness, or constricted feeling in the chest. If you are experiencing chest pain and suspect it may be a result of COVID-19, call your doctor or head directly into one of Complete Care’s 24/7 emergency care COVID testing sites.

Each one of our ER locations throughout Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, and Lubbock) and Colorado (Colorado Springs) offer in-house rapid antigen testing, send-out PCR testing, or a molecular testing panel that looks at 20+ different respiratory targets including COVID-19 for symptomatic individuals.

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