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1554262 tn?1374243601

Severe Chest pain relieved by cold water

I hope I got the right Forum for this...

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.

DeBug
220 Responses
547368 tn?1440545385
Hello DeBug,

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.

Best of Luck to You,
~Tuck
2 Comments
DeBug,
I agree with Tuck that this could be a GI issue though less likely GERD. Possible esophageal spasm, less likely hiatus hernia.  Suggest you visit GI practice. (An esophagram or endoscopy may be helpful exams to undergo)
Best,
ALbert PA
sphincter of odi spasms... pancreatic?
when I was on morphine for pancreatic pain control, it would set off pain that made me believe it was cardiac related...

50/50 on the "de-bunking" of the dynamic, but -  as one who suffered MISERABLY for years; only relief? COLD  MILK! I'll be a believer til I pass
547368 tn?1440545385
I meant to add that you are always welcome here. Right forum or not!  :o)

You may also want to post on our Gastroenterolgy Forum....but please let us know how you are doing too. Here's the link:

http://www.medhelp.org/forums/Gastroenterology/show/68

Looking forward to your updates.

~Tuck
Avatar universal
In addition to what Tuck mentioned, I was also thinking possible esophageal spasm - perhaps the cold water kind of "zaps" the spasm out.

Like Tuck, I'm no doctor, so am only giving my opinion/idea.

I hope you find some answers.
1554262 tn?1374243601
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.  

DeBug
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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
1554262 tn?1374243601
Hi Matt,

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.

DeBug
1554262 tn?1374243601
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!

DeBug
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.  
Barbara .
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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).
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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!
Avatar universal
Hi....I have these exact symptoms and don't have a gall bladder, so I don't know if that is it necessarily.  You should have your gall bladder checked out, though...test in non-invasive and who knows?
Avatar universal
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!
Avatar universal
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.
1554262 tn?1374243601
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
Avatar universal
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.
1554262 tn?1374243601
Hi gail1619,

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.
Avatar universal
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.
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