I'm a 51 year old male and for the past 16 months I have had a strange pain happen to me at random times. I call it a "severe flash pain" for lack of a better description. It is located in my chest behind the sternum and slightly to the right (not the heart side). The pain area radiates about the size of a softball and happens very fast with no or little warning. I have even been raised from sleep with this pain. I get it at work, at home, pretty much any time of day. I can’t seem to nail down what triggers the pain like meal time, too much stress, fatty foods, etc. The weird part is this: I get myself to cold water as fast as I can and drink it quickly. Almost as fast as the pain arrived…it goes away. The pain is severe and the rush to find cold water is in panic mode to be sure. I even had to get a cup out of the trash once since there were none around during an attack! I don’t think it’s a heart issue but I just don’t know. I do drink coffee in the mornings, don’t exercise much as I should, but I don’t know if that’s it.
Welcome to the Pain Management Forum. I am so sorry to hear about your attacks of sudden severe chest pain.
The obvious first thought is cardiac. The pain doesn't have to be exactly over your heart or on the left side.....however drinking cold water should not relieve cardiac symptoms. If anything it should make it worse. But I am far from an expert. So I cannot say for certain that it is not cardiac.
It's possible it is a gastrointestinal problem. Ppl with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or similar conditions are often able to relieve their symptoms, at least temporarily with a glass of cold water...that is factual. Obviously you cannot be diagnosed over the internet...it's a risky thing to do. I encourage you to consult with your PCP. Do you take anything for GERD?
Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing. I will be very interested to hear the results of your consult.
Thanks Tuck and GeminiGirl for your help! That is very kind of you both to take the time to read and respond.
I have not heard of GERD but will Google that to see what I can see. The esopageal spasm looks like a possiblility as well. I have not see a doc as I have no health insurance and will need to do what I can do on my own first.
I have the exact same problem. Water relieves the pain. I am 35 and thought it was heartattack, but its not. With me it starts in the sternum and goes around the entire ribcage. It must feel like this to be strangled by a Anaconda.
I too have these symptoms. They occur infrequently and cant pin down why or how they arise. However, drinking cold drink relieves it and without it it gets progressively worse, hence the panic to get water down asap. i can feel the liquid go down and somehow relieve the pain almost as quickly as it arrived. As sense of anxiety and being overwhelmed persists for a while though. I havnt yet discussed with a doctor and would be interested to learn of others diagnosis.
I too have this problem. I am a 61-year old female and identify with everything that Rockhopper600 says. The pain is sudden and frightening, and of course I immediately think heart attack. Although I am reading all of the posts, and have some spare time today to surf the Internet, I haven't seen what is actually causing the pain. This sudden pain happened to me once when I was driving and unfortunately had no water in the car. I stopped at a gas station to get some water, and had to wait in an extremely long (it seemed) line. So I now keep a bottle of water in the car at all times. I am glad to know that the cause is not a heart attack. Thanks for all your comments.
I too get chest pains that i have been associating with gas pains that are almost immediately relieved by ice water. I am glad to hear I'm not crazy but would like to know if it really is just gas pains that have travelled to the upper chest. My pain is more like pressure in the middle of the chest, or a heavy weight. There have been no other symptoms like left arm tingle or anything else.
I also have the same prob it feels so bad sometimes I fell like i cant breath.When i get water I fell it go down and it starts to go away.Mine always starts in the morning after I get moving around ,but I also drink water all day after that cause I work in a very hot plant or outside doing something. But when it hits me it can put me on the ground if i don't get any water.I'm 27year old male
Sorry to hear you are having like pains. I have noticed that the frequency has gone down for me but I still get the sudden pains and can always get the pain to stop with cold water. I sleep with a glass next to my bed for the night ones. I still know what causes it or why cold water works but I'm sure it's not a heart attack...at least that's someting. Let me know if you find anything out.
I guess I was both happy and sad to hear that others have this "thing" with the pain and the cold water. It's been almost a year now and I went several months without any problems. I did get quite a few the last couple of months but the cold water always does the trick. In fact, I've had this so long now that I can calmly deal with the pain (less panic) and just seek out water as quick as I can. The only issue I had was getting an attack on the road and having to wait in line at a food/gas stop to buy a bottled water...it took forever and I thought I was going to pass out!
Hi, I also get this pain it radiates up into my jaw and nose and for a while i took rennie and that kind of thing but sat for an hour or more in severe pain and it usually comes on in the night. I spoke to the doctor about this and she seemed to think it was my esophogus(sure not spelt right but the tube your food goes down) going into a spasm and i have done the same thing and I drink some water as soon as possible and it clears straight away. So i think she was right and by doing that it jumps back but no wiser to why it does it but quite scary.
I have had this exact thing for several years. Sometimes I will go 5 or 6 weeks and then suddenly out of nowhere I have one. Mine starts with kind of a burning in my stomach and then it even goes into my neck and jaw and chest and the pain is horrible. I always have a bottle of water with me anywhere I am, even church. It's the only way to relieve it. I had a bad one last night. I live in fear that one of these days the water won't work. I can't find anyone who knows what it is but I am glad I'm not alone in this.
I have been having this problem since 2000. I do not get it often (at one point, I began to write down when I got them & have gone as long as 8 months in between) & I cannot see any pattern. I have the “episodes” when either sitting or more often when sleeping. It wasn't until after about 3 of them that I found drinking water immediately resolved the problem. Enduring the episode without water was extremely painful, but was less alarmed when I realized that I could breathe fine throughout. I once brought it up to my doctor, who immediately suggested a multitude of tests. Since I had been having the episodes for so long & didn't believe it to be a heart problem, I waved off the Doctor's suggestions for complicated & expensive tests. However I still do not have any idea what it actually is.
I have the same problem. I discovered (by internet search) it might be esophageal spasm. Since this is an internal organ, I suppose that is how it feels when it spasms, so it's UNlike any regular muscle spasm.
I have a question for everyone to ask yourself: how much coffee do you drink? This is a hunch. I drink quite a bunch, and it may have upset my stomach acid balance, which may in turn have had esophagus effects.
I also am pretty sure this is related to basic dehydration. I know I'm dehydrated when major muscles (quads, calf, sides, abs) go charlie horse on me, and they have been lately.
I had that "gonna die" feeling today. Luckily, I was almost home from work and was able to drink water to make my heart attack (pun) go away.
Also, for everyone, look up "japanese water treatment." There is some kind of fad going on over there that is being hailed as a cure for many bodily disturbances, and it's as simple as drinking a healthy dose of water in the morning (I'm talking like 4 to 6 cups).
Funny, noone has mentioned gall bladder problems. It camn cause very sharp pain. I used to get them but never tried water I went to my doctor who did a number of tests that said I had a very badly infected gallbladder.
Am a 51 year old female who has suffered with these sudden, terrible chest spasms for 2 years. At first I thought I was having heart problems and a cardiologist performed a thalium stress test and looked at my heart with a C-scan...everything looked fine. My pain, I discovered later, can be allieviated by drinking icy water. The curious thing is I just had an Upper GI and the doc said there is no sign of GERD! He thought it could perhaps be esophogeal spasm and possibly GERD that just wasn't showing up in the upper GI. I just wish someone could definitively diagnose this as it is worrisome and interferes with my life! I am sorry to here that others are dealing with this but incredibly relieved to know that I am not losing my mind and the only one who has this! The three doctors I've been to all act totally baffled!
I too suffer from this exact same thing. I have had it for 15 years and I am 48 yrs old. Sometimes I have it frequent and other times every so often. Have told my Dr about it and she just said its acid reflux but acid reducers don't help. I do not have a gallbladder and do not drink coffee and I do not go anywhere without water. Please if anyone figures out what this is, post it on this page!
I am a 63 y.o. male and have had the exact symptoms mentioned in this post since about age 27. The pain will wake me up at night, but as soon as I get up and drink water, it goes away. It will also happen if I sit in a slouchy position, as in slumped over reading a book. It used to scare me but have learned to live with it. Dr.'s off-the-cuff comments have included indigestion and possible hernia. Since it has been going on so long, I have just learned to live with it. Sorry others have the same problem, but it's reassuring you're not orbiting the ozone layer solo.
Well it's been about 2 years since I started this thread and it is both helpful and scary to see so many others with the same thing. I have not had as many this year as last year but I do still get that pain and it still is quenched with cold water. If I had to make a guess as to the cause it would be the esophageal spasm because perhaps the cold water will shock the muscle to the extent that it stops the spasm. Does anyone know how to test this guess? -- DeBug
During the holidays, as I was getting ready for bed one weeknight, I realized that due to a hectic work schedule, a holiday luncheon & out with friends after work, that I had drank no water at all that day. Sure enough, I woke during the night with one of these episodes. I think you may be "right on" about it being caused by dehydration. I recommend that everyone begin monitoring their intake of water & see if this helps.
I had one just this morning and a glass of cold water knocked it right out. I ate chicken parmesan (1/2 order) the night before at dinner time with a small glass of milk. I don't recall the amount of water I drank yesterday but I do remember drinking 3 or 4 large glasses of unsweetened iced tea.
I have not noticed the pains as it relates to not getting enough water but I will take notice to see if there is a cause and effect for me as well. I would think that if the pain was related directly to the dehydration that we would see a larger group of people with the pain since dehydration seems to be fairly common. You never know and of course I'm just guessing. If I got the pain everyday I'll bet I could figure it out but my frequency is just not enough for that. There are times where a second glass of water is needed to lower the pain all the way down.
I'm now 59 years old and have had this "chest lock" as I call it since one day when I was 25 in a meeting I thought I was having a heart attack. Intuitively I knew to drink water and and sure enough it worked. Immediately worked. Over the years I get a sense an attack is imminent, either night or day, and rush to the sink to pour a glass of water. Even though it is now over thirty years of putting up with this I know I will never get over the initial panic of not being quick enough to get to water. When it comes on, sufferers will know what I mean by that, sometimes I just get a feeling that something is wrong, then I get strange tugs in either my neck or chest and I know the horrible thing will come into my life once again. I'm sure it is a spasm linked to the sphincter at the bottom of the oesephegus. so a little bit of gerd triggering it, (hence it might not show up on scans)and a big lot of sympathetic spasm.
I am sorry to see that no one has ever posted the results of a doctors visit with this pain. My husband is 32 with a family history of heart attacks and he has been experiencing this pain for the past two years. He never goes anywhere with out something to drink. After reading different things on heart disease I read about angidus sorry if I didn't spell it right but I was worried that this was what he was experiencing. Anyways I will not let up on him until he makes it to the doctors so I will try and post his doctors opinion ASAP. Esphogous problems would be a welcomed relieve after everything I have been dreading!! This forums are great for just about anything we just have to remember to follow through with a conclusion when we get one:)
I had an echocardiagram, umpteen x rays and ecg's. I paid for a full heart work out from bupa. nothing organically wrong with the ticker I'm pleased to see. I was heavily hypothyroid at one time and now on thyroxing so don't know if that is a predictor of "chest lock" or not.
hope your chap is okay, but if the symptoms are relieved by drinking water I've been told its unlikely to be a cardiomyopathy or arterial disease.
Like the rest of you, I have suffered with this same pain and my drinking water always relieves the symptoms immediately. Cold or tap doesn't matter...just getting the water down quickly does the trick. I carry my own Rubbermaid 20 oz bottle of water everywhere.
I used to experience GERD but took the 2 week OTC remedy (I think it was Pepcid or whatever) solved the problem there. My chest pains still persisted. I could not nail down the cause (yes, I drink coffee but not very often...even after stopping for a month, I continued to have these pains periodically no matter what I ate or drank).
I've been to the doctor as I have a "hot spot" on my thyroid (one spot does about 85% of the work of my thyroid and all blood levels are fine) which makes me look like I have a bit of an Adam's Apple. I was told by an internist that some day I will have to have 1/2 my thyroid out and that when that time presents itself, I will probably get shaky of hand. ...I have not as of yet (it's been over a year since that diagnosis).
I also was told I have Barrett's Esophagus. You should look it up for details but here are some points to ponder.
Points to Remember:
1. Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by tissue that is similar to the intestinal lining.
2. The true prevalence of Barrett’s esophagus is unknown, but it is estimated to affect 1.6 to 6.8 percent of people.
3. The exact cause of Barrett’s esophagus is unknown, but gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a risk factor for the condition.
4. Between 5 and 10 percent of people with GERD develop Barrett’s esophagus. Other risk factors include obesity—specifically high levels of belly fat—and smoking. Some studies suggest that genetics, or inherited genes, may play a role.
5. Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed with an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and biopsy.
6. The risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma in people with Barrett’s esophagus is about 0.5 percent per year.
7. A health care provider will discuss treatment options for Barrett’s esophagus based on the person’s overall health, whether dysplasia is present, and, if so, the severity of the dysplasia.
8. Treatment options include medication, endoscopic ablative therapies, endoscopic mucosal resection, and surgery.
I am in my early 50s, a female, and have been overweight for quite some time...with belly fat. So losing weight is important to me, though doing it is difficult for many reasons. I firmly believe that weight loss will improve my symptoms but being a chef, it's a difficult thing!
I hope this helps all of you. We may all be experiencing the same thing, Barrett's Esophagus. I KNOW that is a problem I have, weather this pain I, and we all experience, is a result of Barrett's or not, I cannot say.
I have just happened upon this thread and I have the exact same problem. I have had this for about a year, I am 47.
I first got this when I was driving, I had to pull over and got out the car to breathe deeply. The pain went away in about 2 or 3 mins. I had it 3 times before I realised water made it go away. I then got it about 2-3 times a month until March this year where it's frequency is increasing. I have 3 episodes in teh last week.
Like everyone else water makes it go away immediately, its strange. However the last few times I have had to take more and more water for it to go away and I am worried that I may get to a stage when water doesn't work. I now make sure I carry water everywhere I go as I need it immediately when teh pain comes on.
I went to my GP and he did test for acid reflux etc but to no avail so I will be watching with interest too see if anyone comes up with a diagnosis or even a cause.
Wow, and I thought I was the only one on this planet with this stupid condition. In fact I had an episode only a few hours ago, drunk some water, and the pain was gone.
Had this for the 1st time about 15 yearts ago, I am 55M.
Symptoms come very irregular and unprodiceted, but about 1 episode/month.
By the way, I never drink any coffee (ZeroKelvin somewhere at the top).
I also read the Wiki Barrett (PacNW)...pretty scary. I think I will visit my GP with this story and take it from there.
Many thnx to everyone on this forum for all you input and advise. It realy makes me feel that I am not alone.
Were you diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus by a physician and was that the result of an upper GI? I see where you were told that you had Barrett's Esophagus but was not sure if that was the results of testing. Also, I see another person in our 'group' had an upper GI but did not find Barrett's Esop.
My (less than stellar) response back from the NDDIC after I asked them to look at our group thread here on MedHelp:
Thank you for contacting the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)...The NDDIC is an information and organization referral service. We are not medical specialists and cannot provide medical advice or opinions. We suggest you speak with your primary care physician regarding your concerns. A doctor who has examined you and knows your medical history is the best person to provide you with specific health care advice.
The National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus provides a consumer-friendly listing of organizations to assist in the search for physicians and other health professionals at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/directories.html.
We hope you find this information helpful.
For information about participating in clinical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), see www.ClinicalTrials.gov.
The NDDIC has developed valuable tools and resources for consumers. The NIDDK Image Library is a database of original full-color and black-and-white images available in low, medium, and high resolutions. The Interactive Health Education Tools from the NIH is a collection of health quizzes, tutorials, podcasts, streaming audio files, and surgical videos that can be used to learn about diseases, conditions, diagnostic procedures, and treatments. All of these resources are services of the NDDIC and can be accessed online at www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/resources.
If you need further information, please contact us by mail, phone, or email at
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for about 3 years now i have had this issue with a tight pain almost in the center of my chest and the only thing that works is running as fast as i can for the COLDEST THING TO DRINK!... i as well thought this was just something weird with my body... sometimes the pain seems to go into my arm and into my mouth a bit but only if i dont get something to drink.. i just had an attack not 45 minutes ago and i searched GOOGLE and found this site and this part of the site right away.signed up and commented.i see my doctor in 4 weeks.i will ASAP talk to him about it.im only 36 i wonder if this is young for this? it started at 32-33 ... anyway i just wanted to say that im nother human being with the same issue. thank you for having me. i take other prescribed meds that i wonder as well might cause it.i cant narrow down how an attack in brought on. before i had the cold drink thing i remembered the first few attacks lasted hours and i was even in bed just rolling around.i mean on the pain scale of 1-10 it was a 10. thanx for letting me share here.
i also had a few attacks before i learned about the cold water or really anything cold wll work..im telling you the best for me anyway is actually MILK poured over ice very fast and then drank..the pain is almost ASAP gone...instead of water where sometimes it has not worked.anyway like i was saying the first few attacks i didnt know the water trick at all.i had an attack at work one day finally and i was starting to even panic the pain was so bad i was losing my breathe and even panicking.anyway on the way to the bathroom i hit the watr fountain and like a minute later i could literally feel the water taking the pain away... from now on i dont go anywhere withouta thermos of icecold something. STAY PREPARED!
I am a 75 year old female and I have been plagued with chest pains off and on for most of my adult life. Numerous heart tests (EKG, Stress, etc.) have been done and there's nothing wrong with my heart or my lungs. Through a process of elimination I have discovered that vitamin C and other vitamins that I take sometimes in mega doses causes the pain most of the time. Now I believe that I have an answer to combat that. I take 3 tbs. of vinegar in a couple ounces of water (I use all natural apple cider vinegar with the mother in it), and the pain goes away. In conclusion I believe that it is gas. As I stated at the beginning, none of my health professionals were ever able to come up with a reason for my chest pain. This is my own belief and it is working every time after suffering for decades (since my early 20s).
i am really trying to work on this then more then just the water...so i have watched through my day.. i realized on thing so far. i takiea medication in the BENZO family for panic attacks. about 50% of the time i take it about 15-20 miuts later one of the attacks happens. just an update.-peter
I am off for an endoscopy in early September which should hopefully shed some light on this problem. I am now getting these spasms daily and luckily cold water still stops it. I will post when I know the outcome.
Wow this gives me relief!!! I got this feeling 16 years ago and have been trying to get to the bottom of this...Thank you everyone for your time to explain. I am 51 years young and not over weight and do not drink coffee and eat really healthy and get these attacks when I feel a little stressed. It started happening to me when I was pregnant with twins...I thought I was going to die...I always have water with me where ever I go...also remember do NOT leave water in plastic bottles in your car...it is poison...one of these days this will be reconized to help us all and we can find an easy solution to get to the bottom of this, sometimes I drink a teaspoon of baking soda with ice water and it clears all gas in the body that is stuck some where...good luck to all
I am also a fellow sufferer of this crazy chest pain. I have seen my GI (I also have Crohn's disease) & originally thought it was an ulcer. My very first attack was so painful & strong, the pain went from the center of my chest, up
My right arm & into my jaw on the right side. In the beginning, drinking anything would make the pain much much worse. Over time I started to have up to five attacks a day. They would all stop me in my tracks. Two days in a row I could not eat bc the pain in the center of my chest was so painful any time food went down the pipe. Originally when I told my GI about how drinking anything caused unbearable pain, he told me "sounds just like esophogeal spasms"-
Evidently if its a spasm, drinking is the worst thing to do. I've had X-rays, barium swallow tests, cat scans of the abdomens, sonograms & tons of bloodwork. It's definitely not stones from the gallbladder, it's not ulcers, GERD or spasms. Here is what I do know:
I was having several episodes daily and started to research extensively. I know we have so many nerves running through our bodies that referred pain can make it very confusing. I started to believe it was fatty liver disease. I started taking Livatone Plus, and started juicing to see if that helped
Detox my liver. Sure enough I found out that I did (still do) have non alcoholic fatty liver disease. But once I started the Livatone plus and the juicing, my episodes have nearly stopped all together. In fact in one month I have had a total of 4. Massive difference and change. This is what worked for me. I still believe it maybe has something to do with some sort of spasm perhaps. I was even put on nitroglycerin (esophogus is made from the same tissues in our hearts)... And it never worked. If it was a spasm it should've worked but only managed to give me a nasty headache. Since I started detoxing my liver & trying to reverse the NA fatty liver disease, I've almost gotten rid of these painful attacks. I can always feel one coming as I get this weird tightness sensation in the back of my throat. That's when I know I have a matter of seconds to grab ice cold water. Don't try drinking anything carbonated! I found out the hard way with that too, it doesn't work! Maybe some of this helped- I hope so, bc it sure is scary when it happens and maddening to not know. Btw, I am a 39 yr old female and have had this since Jan of this year. Good luck!
Hi all, I'm 43 and from England, I to have these pains and have had them on and off for around 15 years, I think it's safe to rule out heart attacks. Mine starts deep inside my ear (right ear) and then spreads to the chest front and back, sure enough as soon as I drink ice cold water it's gone! I would like to ask if anyone has been diagnosed with Anxiety? I know I suffer from low levels of Anxiety, I also believe this to be stress related and have noticed from previous attacks and been aware of how stressed I have been feeling (my job has alot of stress) I work in a police control room so stress levels are high, don't get me wrong, I don't conciously feel stressed but have noticed when they come there has been some stress involved. Just my thoughts, I do know how these pains feel and cold water is the only thing thats solves this. hang in there guys we will get to the bottom of this. Ps I did ask a Dr who I work with who just shrugged his shoulders and said if cold water works then fine? hhmmm
Sorry forgot to add, I cycle about 40 miles a week, Jog twice a week ( about five miles each time) So I can safely say it's not something that comes from being unfit, I have never had pain at anytime during exercise. just for those who feel fitness is an issue.
I have been having these things for years. I posted here Aug. 2012. I average about two a month but have gone six weeks without one. They come on without warning so I have a bottle of water in my car at all times. Last night I felt one coming on and thought I would just see how long it would last if I tried to just wait it out without the water. It started in my stomach and chest and spread up to my neck and jaw and even ears. It hurt so freaking bad I ran for the cold water and it was instant relief. I don't know how anyone could stand it without the water or I suppose anything cold to drink would work if you drank it fast. I am healthy, exercise regularly and have no medical problems of any kind. This is a mystery, but thank goodness for cold water.
I too have tried to withhold the cold water to see what would happen...usually when I get these at night and I'm not in the mood to get up and run to the kitchen for some cold water. Anyway, if the pain is mild I can lay still and fight the pain for quite some time to see if it will peak and then subside without the water. Each time I've tried, the pain does not go away and I give up to get the water bottle and leave it on my nightstand. As far as frequency, I too have weeks where I get absolutely no events followed by periods where I get a few per day. I simply can not figure it out.
Well, I guess it's not gonna kill us so thats a good thing. LOL I too keep a bottle of water on the night stand. Good luck to you (us) and although I hate that others are suffering this mystery ailment. I am sure glad I'm not alone in this boat!!
Thanks for your site. You saved me from the emergency room tonight. (This was my first attack.)
My symptoms began in my right jaw (tightening) and then pain traveled into my chest (center right). The sharper it got, the tighter my entire jaw got.
I ended up on the floor and freaked my husband out... he thought it was a heart attack. The pain was intense, but also kind of felt like a large piece of food was caught in my esophagus- but with sooo much sharp pain.
I drank a whole bottle of water and it helped relieve the pain in my chest and my jaw loosened too. However, 5 minutes later it happened again and I repeated with another water bottle. My husband also brought me a few aspirin (just in case).
It's been about 40 minutes now and I have a migraine (I had a persistent headache a few hours ago).
Also, earlier this evening, I noticed my lips were very dry. (So I suspect dehydration.)
I do not have any reflux and rarely need an antacid. However, I did have gastroesophogeal reflux as an infant, due to the "flap" not grown in properly (family genetic thing) for almost my first year. And I was Bulemic as a teen. So maybe all this puts me at a higher risk for it. Additionally, I have been told (10 years ago) that my liver could have issues. I am 48. I am about 25 pounds overweight, but am in excellent health and a little low on the exercise.
I will mention this episode to my doc and ask for tests as I want to rule out this Barrett's Esophagus thing. That cancer statistic is just way too high to ignore.
Has anyone else experienced headache? Though, I am prone to migraines too.
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