YANMD advice for the uninsured please
November 4, 2010 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Dull achey pain somewhere just below my chest for over 24 hours. No insurance, YANMD, what could it be?

Two days ago, I had some homemade hot cocoa with milk and within about 20 minutes experienced what generally felt like it didn't agree with my stomach.

Yesterday, mid-late afternoon, after eating leftover green beans and brown rice, I experienced a similar achey pain that you typically get feel from eating something that may not have been so fresh (but I ate it the day before, and felt fine - hours apart from the hot cocoa).

This achey feeling has persisted now for over 24 hours, constantly. It doesn't so much feel like "oh my stomach hurts" but now feels like something (food? air?) is stuck somewhere. It isn't severely painful, it's more like a dull achey light pain, hurts more when I lean forward, and hurts more for a moment when I burp.

It feels like the achiness is sort of middle of my chest - below my breasts, but a few of inches above my belly-button. It doesn't feel like it radiates towards any side, or my back, but is stagnant to the middle and not a fairly large area.

I don't know what's going on, but now that the achey feeling has lasted for more than a day I'm beginning to get worried. No insurance, no prior health issues, 30 year old female, in otherwise great health. I take no medications besides the oral contraception, and only take anti-histamines and ibuprofen sparingly (once a month or so, and not recently).

What is going on with me? Should I be really concerned?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
One time I had a similiar pain, and racked my brain for what it could be. Turns out (I think) I just pulled a muscle in my chest, as it felt exactly like a pulled muscle healing as it disappeared. In my case it hurt more when I breathed, which was my tip-off, but I think the "hurts more when I lean forward/burp" could be a similiar deal. IANAD, but there's my anecdote.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Dull chest pains = emergency room visit. At the very least dial your local free Ask a Nurse hotline.
posted by zippy at 1:43 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Trapped wind. Before declaring a medical emergency, belch. People take in a lot of air when sipping hot drinks. The timing of your symptoms seems to suggest that may be at fault. Worry over the cause may be causing psychosomatic symptoms.
posted by Biru at 2:01 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's probably no big deal.

On the other hand, the area you describe is home to your aorta. Your aorta is incredibly important in terms of remaining alive.

You might want to get that checked out. Maybe immediately.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on November 4, 2010

Although these don't sound like classic heartburn symptoms, that's a possibility. Have you tried antacids? Cheap and low-risk. If they work, great; if not, you'd have more info for a doctor to work with.

Also, ibuprofen (+ other NSAIDS) can cause nasty stomach issues. I used to take it with no problem, then suddenly my stomach said "no more." It might be best to stay far away from it til you get this sorted. Good luck-
posted by Corvid at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2010

IANAD and all that. Firstly, go to your doctor. Secondly, don't worry yet, there are all sorts of things that can cause this sort of pain. Purely as an example (and there is no reason whatsoever to think this is what you have) a few years ago I experienced mid-abdominal discomfort very similar to what you describe, although slightly off to the left side. It persisted for weeks. I finally had an endoscopy and it turned out I had a hiatus hernia that was causing reflux/indigestion. The internet had told me that hiatus hernias do not cause pain. As is so often the case, the internet was wrong.

The important thing is, if it lasts for more than a few days, get it checked out. I know you said you have no insurance but at least go to a cheap walk-in surgery and get their opinion. Man, I feel sorry for you Americans, that you can't even go to a doctor for free when you have an issue.

If you really can't afford a doctor try Prilosec. It's an acid inhibitor and you can get it over the counter in the US. I know; I did when I lived there. You take them for a couple of weeks and they do fuck with your digestion a bit but they really cool the acidity down. If this works it's almost ceratin that some sort of reflux-related problem is going on. You still need to find out exactly what, though.
posted by Decani at 3:36 PM on November 4, 2010

Does it feel like there's a hardboiled egg stuck in your esophagus right where it goes into your stomach? If so, there's enough of a reasonable chance that it's acid reflux that you should probably try taking some omeprazole to see if it helps before hying off to the doctor.
posted by KathrynT at 4:25 PM on November 4, 2010

(I am not a Dr.)

1st step - have a large, cold glass of milk. That will help neutralise stomach acid if it is indigestion.

2nd step - try a medicine like Gaviscon to soothe heartburn.

If neither of those work, it is time for you to see a Dr straight away.

If you have a family history of early heart attacks, skip steps one and two.

The Heart Foundation lists the warning signs of a heart attack here.

They also say

Heart attack symptoms vary. They are not always sudden or severe. Many start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort. Some people experience one symptom, while others experience a combination. But the one thing all heart attacks have in common is that the sooner you receive treatment, the less damage will be done.

posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 4:50 PM on November 4, 2010

Could be gall bladder. If you eat something fatty (chocolate cake would be a good test), your pain should increase. Not fun, but at least something you could try. It could take a couple of hours after you eat before the pain increases.

But go see an urgent care clinic or something.
posted by wwartorff at 5:08 PM on November 4, 2010

It feels like the achiness is sort of middle of my chest - below my breasts, but a few of inches above my belly-button.

Sounds like a milder version of my gallstone attack two years ago. That one though, I was curled up in the fetal position thinking I was having a heart attack. The ultrasound tech that saw me at the ER that night said "wow, those are the sharpest looking gallstones I've seen." Even when we went to the ER in the middle of the night, they still hooked me up to an EKG to rule out heart attack.

They gave me some awesome awesome IV drugs and said I needed to have my gallbladder yanked.

Can you at least try an urgent care clinic?
posted by jerseygirl at 5:23 PM on November 4, 2010

Do you have any pain in your jaw or shoulder or arm? If so, go to the ER.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:15 PM on November 4, 2010

Just throwing it out there - I went to the doc with a dull, very uncomfortable pain kind of right at my solar plexus, that wouldn't go away as much as I burped, stretched, etc. It ended up being costochondritis, treated with NSAIDS.
posted by tristeza at 7:21 PM on November 4, 2010

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