Why Is My Child Having Chest Pain and Is It Serious?

When an adult experiences chest pain, a quick trip to the ER usually follows. Fortunately, chest pain in pediatric patients only rarely indicates heart disease. Regardless, all cases of unusual chest pain should be evaluated by an after-hours pediatrician, just in case it does require medical care or a referral to a specialist.

Emotional Stress

Just like their parents, kids can get stressed out. It's sometimes hard for adults to understand why young children get stressed. Remember that, even though a child's responsibilities are minor, his or her capacity to cope with problems isn't well-developed. Children get stressed out from going to their first day of school, having an argument with a friend, struggling with homework, and even from sensing the stress of the adults in their lives. And all of those stressors can contribute to chest pain. Of course, an emergency pediatrician should still evaluate the child to rule out other possible causes.

Physical Stress

Most pediatric patients with chest pain have physically overexerted themselves. As the kids head back to school and get active on their sports teams, they're more likely to sustain musculoskeletal injuries that can cause chest pain. Sometimes, chest pain can be caused by the exertion of frequent, intense coughing fits, such as those of an asthma attack.


Has your child recently had a viral illness? Chest pain that follows an infection can occasionally indicate costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage between the breastbone and ribs. Kids with costochondritis experience sharp pain, usually on the left side of the chest. The pain will worsen when the child coughs or takes deep breaths.


Pericarditis is quite rare, but pediatricians may recommend checking for it, just to be on the safe side. Pericarditis is the inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the heart. It can cause very sharp, stabbing chest pain. Like costochondritis, pericarditis can follow a viral infection. It usually doesn't last long, but may sometimes require medications.

Pediatrics After Hours has several urgent care facilities around the DFW area. Our team of emergency pediatricians understands how distressing it can be when a child isn't feeling well, and so it's our mission to provide prompt, reassuring care to our young patients and their families. You can reach us at (214) 363-7242 to request an after-hours or weekend appointment, but we also welcome walk-in visits.

Categories: chest pain


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