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What is sudden jaw pain on the left side a symptom of?

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Quick Answer

Sudden jaw pain on the left side is sometimes a symptom of a heart attack, according to Dr. Oz. One-sided, acute jaw pain is also a sign of trigeminal neuralgia, although this can occur on either the left or the right, states WebMD.

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Full Answer

Sudden jaw pain that warns of a heart attack typically waxes and wanes, claims Dr. Oz. The discomfort sometimes shifts position. Left-sided jaw pain in the morning is of special concern, because blood tends to be thicker earlier in the day, and this makes the heart work harder. With a heart attack, jaw soreness is "referred pain," which means its cause is located in another part of the body. Nerves near the heart are irritated, and pain signals move through the spine to other sites.

Trigeminal neuralgia is an irritation of the trigeminal nerve in the head, states WebMD. Typically, a blood vessel presses on the nerve, causing discomfort. Sudden, shooting pain usually occurs on one side of the face or jaw. The pain is set off by ordinary activities such as brushing teeth, applying makeup, touching the face or swallowing. Women suffer from this condition more than men, and it is far more common in people over 50 years old.

The pain from trigeminal neuralgia sometimes lingers for days, weeks or months, WebMD warns. Attacks occasionally occur in quick succession. In certain cases, the pain disappears for long periods, only to resurface months or years later.

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