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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Can Chest Pain Be Related to Smoking?

05/01/2005

Question:

Hi I am 16 years old and I want to know if the problem I have is serious or not. Before I ask I should tell you that I am now almost at the end of 10th grade and I have been smoking marijuana and cigarettes since I was in 8th grade. I have not gone without smoking marijuna or cigarettes for more then 3 days since my 9th grade spring break but, I have stopped smoking marijuna for about a month I have not quit just stopped. I still smoke cigarettes. The problem I have is that after smoking marijuna and a cigarette or sometimes just marijuana I have very sharp pains in my chest and the pain worsens when I try to breathe deep. It scares me and I have not gone to a doctor. Another thing is my chest seems to come outward a little bit and sometimes when I take a breathe I feel a popping in the center of my chest. This happens sometimes when I breathe and sometimes when I push my chest forwards. If anyone can help I am deeply apreciative].

Answer:

I am very concerned about the chest pain you are describing.  If you are on birth control pills and smoking cigarettes and marijuana, you could be noticing a potentially serious lung problem - the worst being pulmonary embolism or small blood clots in your lungs.  This is not common at your age but if any first degree relative has had blood clot problems in their legs, strokes, heart attacks, then you could also be at risk.

Most commonly, sharp chest pains that last only a few minutes come from the build up of lactic acid in muscles due to muscle contraction from drugs that cause blood vessels to constrict and decrease blood supply to the chest wall muscles.  Chest wall pain, which this would be, causes sharp pain that lasts seconds to minutes and will hurt with movement and/or deep breathing.  Chest wall pain is not serious, but you would need to see your doctor to decide what is actually causing your pain.

I would suggest to you that you quit marijuana for good due to it being very addicting and one of the most common addictions we see in teenagers and young adults.  It is both physically and psychologically addicting.  I would encourage you to check out a web site www.nida.nih.gov for the most accurate information on MJ.  Hit the part on the screen that says either marijuana on the right or infofacts and then marijuana.  Obviously, cigarettes and the addictive drug nicotine in them are also severely addicting, much more so than alcohol.  The tobacco companies target young women, especially black women, to market to.  Quitting smoking before you are physically hooked is also very smart.  85% of smokers want to quit but don't due to the physical withdrawal related to stopping.  It is always easiest to stop a drug before physical dependence is present.

I hope this answers your question.

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Response by:

Edna M Jones, MD, MRO Edna M Jones, MD, MRO
Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University