Symptoms of pericarditis include shortness of breath, especially when reclining, and sharp chest pain that pierces the chest on the left side or center, notes Mayo Clinic. Low-grade fever, heart palpitations and swelling in the legs or abdomen are also symptoms. Additional symptoms include a feeling of sickness, fatigue or general malaise and weakness and cough.
The duration of acute pericarditis is generally less than 2 weeks; however, in its chronic form, the condition can last up to 6 weeks, notes Mayo Clinic. With acute pericarditis, the most usual symptom is chest pain, which can feel sharp and stabbing and be generalized to the left of the chest or behind the breastbone. However, not all pain is identical, and some people report pressure instead of pain or characterize the pain as dully and achy.
With acute pericarditis, pain may radiate to the left shoulder and into the neck, becoming worse when the person coughs, inhales deeply or lies down. In its chronic form, pericarditis generally accompanies some sort of chronic inflammation and may cause fluid to develop around the heart. Chest pain is also the most common symptom of chronic pericarditis. Because the symptoms of the condition mimic other lung and heart conditions, it is important to seek out medical care as soon as possible after the commencement of symptoms.