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Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2005 Oct;29(2):87-96.

Differential diagnosis of chest symptoms in the athlete.

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  • 1St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, and Department of Pediatrics, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Chest pain is a common complaint of athletes in all age groups. In athletes, chest pain is often attributed to "chest tightness," and treatment for bronchospasm is considered. However, the causes of the pain are wide and varied, and the pain is referable to the many organ systems that localize to the thorax. Therefore, when treatment with bronchodilators fails, it becomes important to consider other nonasthmatic causes of the pain. These causes can be organized by system and are explained in this article. Cardiac causes are the most feared and, fortunately, are very rare in the adolescent setting. With a thorough knowledge of etiologies of chest pain, the physician can often make a diagnosis with only a history and a physical exam.

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