August 18, 2023

Why Does My Chest Crack When I Sneeze?

When pollen, dust, smoke, or other substances enter your nose, they may tickle the delicate lining of your nostrils. This tickling triggers a nerve signal that tells your brain that you need to clear the substance from your nostrils. The brain responds by telling your body to sneeze. Your eyes snap shut, your tongue presses against the roof of your mouth, and your muscles brace. This movement causes air to rush in rapidly and forcefully, causing the cracking sound of a sneeze.

A sneeze can also cause the rib cage and chest muscles to move quickly up and down. In some cases, this movement can cause a pinched nerve to become more compressed. This can trigger pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the area of the chest where the nerve is located.

If you’re experiencing a combination of symptoms, such as chest pain when sneezing, this could be a sign of an infection. If you suspect you have a lung or chest infection, seek medical attention immediately. Viral infections like the flu typically resolve on their own. Muscle strains usually heal with rest. Chronic conditions, such as asthma, may need treatment with daily medication. More serious conditions, such as pleurisy, may require urgent care.

In some rare circumstances, sneezing can actually dislocate or separate a rib. This can trigger a lot of pain in the chest and upper torso. It can even be accompanied by swelling and breathing difficulties. This condition is called costochondritis and can be treated with a steroid.


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