Fluttering in the chest, neck, and throat is characterized by an increased heart rate. In such a case, your heart may beat harder and faster and skip a beat. This symptom is common, frightening but harmless as it often clears on its own.
Common causes of the fluttering include anxiety, panic attacks, drinking too much coffee or alcohol. The fluttering also described as palpitations can, at times, be caused by a serious heart condition. For that reason, urgent medical care is required when the fluttering is accompanied by:
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Dizziness and fainting
In this article, we provide you with some of the causes of the fluttering, their symptoms, and the treatment option used.
What happens to your heart when experiencing fluttering in chest and throat?
The sensation of a fluttering may fit different descriptions. The condition can be described to have hard beats, fast beats, irregular heartbeats, skipped beast, among others. Depending on what the underlying causes are, it may be accompanied by chest pains, dizziness, sweating, and severe headaches.
According to the national health services NHS, though palpitations may seem alarming, they are harmless and are often not a sign of a serious problem. When you feel a missed or an extra beat, it is known as ectopic beats and also usually nothing to worry about.
A fluttering in heart, chest, throat, or neck does not describe a specific condition, rather a symptom of an array of conditions. Common causes include stress, anxiety, and panic attack. When relating to heart disease, palpitations are considered serious. Urgent treatment is required.
What causes fluttering in the chest?
Fluttering in chest and throat can scarring, but as mentioned, it is often harmless and nothing to worry about. In other cases, the fluttering or palpitations could be a sign of an underlying heart condition. We recommend you see your doctor is the fluttering occurs suddenly, fails to go away or worsen with time.
Benign and serious underlying causes of fluttering in the heart, chest, throat, and stomach might include any of the conditions.
1. Anxiety or Panic attacks
Most people will experience anxiety or a panic attack during their life. The two tend to show symptoms that often mimic heart diseases and can be shown by symptoms such as fluttering in the chest. Both anxiety and panic attacks are natural responses that can elevate your heart rate and increase the force of your heartbeat.
When experiencing a panic attack, one feels a sudden, intense fear that is hard to control. If you are not sure whether the cause of the flutter is anxiety or heart disease, we recommend you see your healthcare provider for urgent medical examination to avoid life-threatening complications.
2. Acute stress reaction
Acute stress disorder is a psychological condition arising in response to a traumatic event. It can cause symptoms such as shortens in breath, nervousness, and anxiety, which could affect the normal heart rate.
Acute stress disorder may develop into delayed stress reaction; a condition commonly referred to as PTSD.
3. Atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition characterized by abnormal, often fast heart rate. With this condition, the heart rate can be considerably higher than 100 beats per minute.
For a normal healthy person, the heart walls contract to force blood and about the body. Then walls relax to allow the heart to be filled up with blood. This process is repeated every time the heartbeats.
With this condition, abnormal electrical impulses suddenly start firing in the atria. The impulse overrides the heart’s natural pacemaker; thus, it cannot control the rhythm of the heart. This is what causes the high irregular pulse rate.
Apart from the fluttering in the chest, it can cause dizziness, shortness of breath. In other cases, the condition causes no symptoms and may even go unnoticed.
4. Premature ventricular contractions
PVCs are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of the hearts lower pumping chambers known ventricles. The extra beats disrupt the regular heart rhythm causing you to feel a flip-flop or a skipped beat in your chest.
PVCs are common, harmless, and can occur in most people now and then. They can be shown by fluttering, pounding, missed, or skipped beat and, in most cases, increased awareness of the heartbeat.
Fluttering in chest and throat
Heart palpitations are harmless. As said, they are feeling of having rapid, fluttering, or pounding heart. Other causes of fluttering in the chest and throat will include:
5. Heart rhythm disorder
Known as heart arrhythmia, they cause no signs or symptoms. In most cases, your doctor may notice them in a routine medical check-up before you do. This disorder can be a sign of different conditions, including:
- Scarring of the heart tissues
- High blood pressure
- Blocked arteries
- Overactive or underactive thyroid glands
- Stress, anxiety or depression
- Drug abuse
When accompanied by symptoms, heart rhythm disorder can be shown by chest pains, racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, and fluttering in your chest, heart, and throat.
6. Atrial flutter
Atrial flutter is a common abnormal heart rhythm that starts in the atrial chambers of the heart. This condition is common in people with cardiovascular diseases. It may, however, occur in people with otherwise normal hearts.
Though sometimes this condition may go unnoticed, its onset is often marked by characteristic sensations of regular palpitations. The sensation may last until the episode resolves of the heart rate is controlled.
7. Aortic regurgitation
Also described as aortic valve regurgitation, this is a condition that occurs when your heart’s aortic valve doesn’t close tightly. This may allow some of the blood pumped out of the left ventricle to leak back. The leakage prevents your heart from efficiently pumping blood to the rest of the body.
Aortic regurgitation causes you to feel fatigued and short of breath. The condition can develop suddenly or gradually over the years. Once the condition becomes severe, surgery may be required to repair or replace the valve.
Hyperventilation is a condition in which one starts to breathe very fast. Normally, healthy breathing occurs with a healthy balance between breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. Hyperventilating upsets this balance by exhaling more than you inhale.
Fluttering in chest and stomach
When the fluttering occurs in the chest and stomach, it could be a sign of:
This is the inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can also mean irritation erosion of the stomach lining that can occur suddenly or gradually.
Common causes of this condition include stress, chronic omitting, and certain medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatories. Gastritis can be shown by indigestion, abdominal pain, bloating, among other symptoms.
10. Hormonal changes during pregnancy (anemia)
Most women will often experience fluttering in the heart, chest, and stomach when pregnant or when nearing their menstrual cycle. This is mainly due to hormonal fluctuations that take place during this time.
Being dehydrated is a common cause of fluttering in the chest, especially in hot weather. An electrolyte disorder caused by loss of sodium and potassium through vomiting, sweating, and chronic diarrhea can also cause fluttering and dehydration.
12. Drugs and food supplements
Certain drugs and supplements have been said to increase the rate or some people’s heartbeat. This is a common complaint in people using inhalers to manage asthma attacks.
Chest fluttering at night
At night, the most likely causes of the fluttering might include the following:
a) Excessive caffeine use
Coffee, tobacco products, and alcohol are considered stimulants. Drinking a cup of coffee, alcohol, or smoking at night before bed may elevate your heart rate; this might cause the fluttering in the chest and throat.
Asthma is a respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs. This condition is known to cause difficulties in breathing and increased heart populations. The condition is caused by an allergic reaction and other forms of hypersensitivity.
With this condition, your airways narrow and swells to produce extra mucus. This makes it difficult to breathe. It can trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortens in breath.
Asthma cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be controlled using an inhaler. The condition often changes from time to time. It is, therefore, important to work with your healthcare provider to always adjust the treatment as the condition changes.
c) Thyroid storm
This is a life-threatening medical condition associated with untreated or undertreated hyperthyroidism. During this condition, the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature can soar dangerously too high levels.
Without urgent and proper medical treatment, thyroid storm is often fatal. At night or during the day, a thyroid storm can be triggered by:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Congestive heart failure
- Severe emotional distress and
Chest fluttering after eating
Some people tend to have palpitations after eating meals rich in carbohydrates, fat, or sugar. To others, this can be a result of electrolyte disorder. An electrolyte disorder occurs when the level electrolytes (naturally occurring elements and compounds) are either too low or too high. Examples of these elements are calcium, sodium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride.
These elements naturally occur in your blood, body fluid, and urine. They can be ingested with food, drinks, and food supplements. The elements need to be maintained at a given balance for the proper functioning of body organs.
An imbalance in these elements can result in serious complications such as seizures, cardiac arrest, and coma. Mild cases of electrolyte imbalance may go unnoticed; for severe cases, common symptoms might include the following:
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Convulsions or seizures
- Constipation or chronic diarrhea
- Muscles cramping and weakness
- Mild to a severe headache
The common cause of electrolyte disorders is the loss of body fluids through prolonged vomiting, chronic diarrhea, and excessive sweating. Treating this condition will often vary depending on the type of electrolyte disorder.
IV fluids, oral medication, hemodialysis, and supplements are generally used to restore the proper balance and minerals in the body.
Chest fluttering no pain
In most cases, palpitations cause no pain. Fluttering in the heart and chest only involves a small, rapid contraction of the muscles around the sternum. This almost feels as if your heart was pumping little chunks of blood.
When the cause is benign and not related to an underlying heart condition, heart fluttering is the only sign you will notice. When the cause of the fluttering relates to an underlying heart condition, you are likely to experience chest pressure, pain, and heaviness.
Call your doctor if you experience fainting spells, trouble breathing, nausea, or the fluttering that fails to go away or worsen.
No treatment is required if the fluttering pass quickly or occurs only occasionally. This is because they are likely to be caused by a minor problem that possibly requires no treatment. It is, however, a good idea to see your health care provider just to be sure.
Treatment is recommended if you experience the following symptoms:
- You have a history of heart complications
- The fluttering lasts for long, fails to improve, or keeps getting worse.
- Loss of consciousness or fainting
- Difficulty in breathing
- Pain in joints, chest and other parts of the body
- Tightness in chest
Heart palpitations can be very difficult to diagnose. Before treating the palpitation, a cardiologist may carry out some tests to help identify what the underlying cause might be. He or she may perform a blood test, urine test, stress test, chest x-ray, a coronary angiography to check how blood flows, an electrophysiology study to check your heart electrical function, among other tests.
There is no specific treatment option for the fluttering in the chest and throat. Identifying and treating the underlying cause of the fluttering is the most effective way to ease and stop the palpitations. In severe cases, treatment will therefore involve
- Restoring the normal heartbeat
- Medication and surgical procedures can be used to control the heart rate
- Lowering the risk of complications
When no specific cause can be pinpointed as the actual cause of the palpitations, your health care provider may recommend stress management, cutting down caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol and taking iron supplements, especially for pregnant women.
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When the palpitations are due to lifestyle changes like smoking and heavy alcohol consumption, cutting down the consumption of such products might be all in, you need to treat the fluttering in such case. Excessing regularly might also help prevent the palpitation.
- Possible causes of palpitation or fluttering in chest and tightness: http://symptomchecker.webmd.com/multiple-symptoms?symptoms=palpitations-(fluttering-in-chest)%7Ctightness&symptomids=175%7C236&locations=14%7C14
- Is it anxiety or heart disease? How to tell them apart: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/jared-bunch-rhythm-of-life/is-it-anxiety-or-heart-disease-sometimes-its-hard-to-tell-the-difference/
- All about electrolyte disorders: http://www.healthline.com/health/electrolyte-disorders#overview1
- Heart palpitations and ectopic beats: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Heart-palpitations/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- A fluttering or coughing sensation in the chest: http://www.livestrong.com/article/239389-a-flutter-or-cough-sensation-in-the-chest/