Chest pain in teens when exercising does not necessarily mean the same thing as when an adult experiences a similar symptom. The young person and his or her parents have learned to associate pain in the upper torso with a serious medical condition, such as a heart attack. When unfortunate events, such as a student athlete dying suddenly due to a previously undiagnosed heart issue, are picked up by the media, it only serves to reinforce the idea that children under the age of 18 are at a high level of risk for a heart attack.
If a young person has been complaining of chest pain while exercising or at rest, he or she should see a doctor about their symptoms. The doctor will conduct a physical examination to determine whether there are any indicators of a serious health condition present. The teen’s heart and lungs will be checked, and the doctor will order additional testing if the exam reveals any cause for concern. The visit to the physician is the perfect time for the young person to ask any questions, including how does an EKG work, that they are wondering about.
In many cases, chest pain in teens can be attributed to Precordial Catch Syndrome. The individual complains of a sharp pain below his or her left nipple that lasts for 30 seconds or so. The pain occurs when the person is involved in some mild activity or is simply at rest.
The usual reaction to this sudden, sharp pain is for the young person to hold his or her breath and then breathe in a shallow manner for the next few minutes, since they are afraid the pain will return. This type of tenderness in the chest wall is not considered to be serious, and tends to disappear over time without causing any permanent damage.
A young athlete involved in contact sports may experience chest pain as a result of colliding with another participant. If he or she doesn’t take the time to warm up properly before an event, a muscle strain or sprain can cause chest pain in teens. Gymnasts and weight lifters should take care not to skip this part of their exercise routine, since they are at risk for developing stress rib fractures, which can cause chest pain.
Teens who experience chest pain should see a doctor to determine its cause. In the majority of cases, the discomfort is not due to a serious underlying condition, and the young person will be reassured that they are in good health that they have no cause for concern.