Chest Pain When Sneezing? Know The Reason Behind It

Have you been feeling chest pain when sneezing for some time now? You have tried to ignore but it keeps on returning every time you sneeze? Well then, the time has come to properly address it and take some action against it.

Chest pain while sneezing can be due to a variety of reasons ranging from a simple muscle strain to something as grave as an underling heart infection.

Sounds terrifying, right? But do not worry, we will provide you with the various causes that can lead to chest pain when sneezing and the treatments that can be availed for it.

Causes of chest pain when sneezing

Chest pain is usually linked to injury, ailment or damage in the chest wall which can worsen during sneezing. 

Now you may wonder why during only sneezing that the chest pain gets most noticeable? That is because during sneezing, muscle and bones in the chest moves which causes further worsening of the situation.

The pains that can be felt during sneezing are

  1. Sharp or stabbing
  2. Dull and long-lasting
  3. Burning and aching
  4. Tenderness and soreness of the heart bones
  5. Tightness and pressure felt on the heart and a squeezing feeling in the chest.

As already said, there can be various factors that can contribute to chest pain when sneezing. So let us go through some of the basic factors that lead to pain when sneezing.

  • Inflammation- Inflammation of any muscle or lining and cells of the rib cage, the heart and lungs can lead to chest pain when sneezing. It is the most common factor and can be also caused due to various factors especially due to inflammatory pathogens such as bacteria, virus and fungi.
  • Obstruction- Chronic and acute obstruction in the lungs caused due to blood clot can result in immense chest pain or a bubbling sensation which can be extremely painful even during simple inhalation and exhalation process.
  • Trauma- Direct injury to chest walls due to strenuous physical activities can lead to soreness of the muscle that can worsen during sneezing, laughing or when while taking deep breaths.

As stated, listed above are some of the general factors, now, we should go through some underlying conditions in detail.

  • Muscle strain- 

Stretching of chest muscles due to arduous physical activities is one of the most common causes of chest pain when sneezing as muscle pain or muscle strain can be observed in 49% of all the chest pain cases reported.

Muscle strain in ribs is called intercostal muscle strain and this condition is generally caused due to fall or injury to the walls.

Pulled muscles and soreness can also be observed due to exercising, lifting something heavy or due to maintenance of poor posture.

If you are suffering from cold and has lead to excessive coughing and sneezing then that can also lead to ribs feeling bruised or tender. 

Intercostal muscles help the rib cage move up and down during breathing, therefore if these muscles have been strained by any means, it causes chest pain when sneezing.

  • Pleurisy- 

The pleura or the lining that surrounds the lungs can get inflamed or swollen in some cases and that is a very important cause for chest pain when sneezing. 

Pleurisy can be due to 

  1. Bacterial pneumonia 
  2. Fungal infections
  3. Blood clots
  4. Sickle cell anaemia
  5. Cancer or tumours 
  6.  Chronic condition like lupus

Pleurisy can trigger an infection when fluids build up between the linings of the lungs and apart from sharp chest pain which worsens during sneezing, coughing and breathing, we’re are symptoms that pleurisy exhibit-

  1. Tightness and pressure in the chest
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Cough and fever
  4. Back or shoulder pain.
  • Heart problems- 

Chest pain is widely considered as a warning sign for heart attack, however, if a heart attack takes place, it is immediate and does not wait for a long time.

Nevertheless, chest pain when sneezing can be indicative of an underlying heart condition known as Angina. Angina is a medical condition in which severe chest pain is noticed when the amount of oxygen reaching the heart is not sufficient enough. It is a serious medical condition which needs immediate treatment and upon encountering the following symptoms, immediately call upon a doctor

  1. Chest pain which worsens during breathing or when sneezing or increases with physical activities and does not go away with rest.
  2. Tightness or pressure felt in the chest, especially behind the sternum.
  3. Numbness in shoulder and arms especially on the left side.
  • Hernia- According to medical terminology, hernia is a condition in which muscles are pushed or pulled into a place where it should not normally be.

For example, if a person is suffering from hiatal hernia where the top part of the stomach bulges into the chest, a hard sneeze or muscle strain can further worsen the situation. 

As we know diaphragms are the muscles which help in breathing and if the muscles have got injured during hernia, then it causes severe chest pain when sneezing.

  • Heartburn- People who have a weak or sensitive digestive system, conditions like acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRED) can cause chests pain when sneezing.

Acid from the stomach moves or splashes up to the throat and causes unbearable pain and discomfort known commonly as heartburn.

  • Arthritis- Arthritis in ribs is known as Costochondritis and it is a condition which causes inflammation and swelling in the chest. 

In this ailment, arthritis occurs in the cartilage that connects the time to the breastbone and therefore when sneezing happens, immense pain Is observed as the whole rib cage moves up and down and further aggravated the soreness. The pain felt can sometimes be compared to having a heart attack.

These are some of the most common causes, however, there are many more that can be the reason for causing pain in the chest when sneezing. Some of the other general reasons are

  1. Lung infection
  2. Allergic asthma
  3. Bone damage or disorder
  4. Joint infection
  5. Tumour formation in the chest wall or in and around lungs or heart

Treatment options

As you can see chest pain when sneezing can be due to a variety of reasons and some of them do not need treatment at all like muscle strains and lung infections caused due to viral pathogens. However, that being said, it is always advisable to consult a doctor whenever one encounters pain in the chest. Only a professional can diagnose the underlying cause and provide treatments and medications accordingly. 


There you go, hopefully, all the inquisitiveness regarding the causes of chests pain during sneezing has been solved through this article. Most of the causes are easily diagnosable and can be completely cured with proper treatment, care and medication. We always suggest you not to neglect any chest pains and immediately call the nearest medical services upon encountering any discomforts and avail to their medical remedies.

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