What causes chest pain after smoking

Definition- what is a stitch in the chest?

Stinging in the chest describes pain in the chest area that feels "stinging". Affected patients are more likely to compare a sting in the chest to the sensation of a needle stick or a knife point. A stinging in the chest can always appear in the same place or in different places. It can only affect the left, only the right or both halves of the chest. A stinging in the chest can occur occasionally or frequently and can be caused by both harmless and serious medical conditions.

These are the causes of a stinging sensation in the chest

There are many different organs in the chest, all of which can trigger a stinging sensation in the chest.

  • Heart: The Heart attack and the Angina pectoris (Chest tightness) are triggered by constricted coronary arteries. Other heart diseases such as valve defects, Cardiac arrhythmias or pericarditis can cause stinging in the brood.
  • Vessels: The aorta, the main artery in humans, can tear if the patient enters it Aneurysm (Bulge) possess. The Aortic dissection, i.e. the splitting of the wall layers of the aorta, is life-threatening.
  • High blood pressure: During a high blood pressure crisis, the blood flow to the heart deteriorates, which can lead to a stinging sensation in the chest.
  • Lung: When a blood vessel in the lungs becomes blocked, it is called Pulmonary embolism designated. If a lung collapses, doctors speak of it Pneumothorax. Both diseases can cause a stinging sensation in the chest. More harmless diseases of the lungs with stinging in the chest are those pleurisy and the Bornholm disease (Nerve irritation due to infection with the Coxsackie B virus).
  • Esophagus: The most common cause of a stinging in the chest here is probably that heartburn. Other diseases are movement and swallowing disorders of the esophagus, tears in the mucous membrane or a tear in the esophagus due to excessive vomiting (Boerhaave syndrome).
  • Musculoskeletal system: The rib cage is surrounded by the spine and ribs. For example, a broken rib or a irritated intercostal nerve trigger a stinging sensation in the chest.
  • Abdominal organs: It is possible that the stinging in the chest is through Diseases of the abdominal organs triggered, e.g. with a Inflammation of the pancreas or the Gallbladder as well as at Roemheld Syndrome (Excessively bloated stomach triggers heart attack-like symptoms).

Test right chest pain

They suffer Pain in the right chest area?
Answer to this 10 quick questions and find out what is causing your chest pain and whether it is dangerous. Click here to go directly to the Test right chest pain.

A heart attack

When it comes to sharp chest pain, most people probably think of a heart attack. The heart attack pain is in many cases too burning or oppressive. Typical accompanying symptoms are the radiation of the pain in the left arm and / or the chin, as well Shortness of breath and Fear of death. Are also possible nausea, Vomit and Pain in the upper abdomen. The heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is blocked, e.g. as part of a arteriosclerosis (Hardening of the arteries).

Because of a pulmonary embolism

In most cases, pulmonary embolism is one venous clot from the deep leg veins via the bloodstream into a pulmonary artery. This is where this embolus gets stuck and clogs the affected pulmonary artery. The blood backs up to the heart, that Heart beats faster. Accelerated breathing and or Shortness of breath are possible because the pulmonary embolism means that less blood can be oxygenated in the lungs. Chest pain only occurs in about 70% of cases.

Through stress

A stinging in the chest does not have to have any physical cause, but can also be caused by stress, for example. "Stress" here means excessive professional demands, grief, ongoing disputes in the partnership or in the family or the reaction to other stressful events and situations. The body responds to such things with a increased sympathetic activity, the part of the autonomic nervous system that is responsible for attention, flight and fight reactions. This will make the Heart rate accelerated, the additional feelings of fear and overwhelming can be a Feeling of pressure or Sting trigger in the chest. It is important not to simply dismiss a stinging in the chest with the words “I have too much stress”, but rather to clarify possible physical causes. If no physical cause is found in these examinations, it is just as important to accept that the body reacts in this way to excessive demands and to seek help to reduce the stress or to improve its handling.

By smoking

When smoking, the toxic substance nicotine is inhaled and migrates directly into the blood through the alveoli. Nicotine activates the autonomic nervous system in different ways. For example, nicotine leads to an increased Heart rate and to one Narrowing of the blood vessels, causing the Blood pressure increases. In addition, nicotine activates pressure and pain receptors, which is why Pain be perceived more clearly. The high blood pressure, the narrowing of the blood vessels in the heart and lungs, may show up as a stinging sensation in the chest. Some smokers report that this stinging is related to smoking and lasts only a few minutes.

Through tension

Lots of people suffer from too little movement and to long periods of sitting. Especially with people who work a lot on the computer, long periods of sitting in a wrong position cause tension in the back and shoulder muscles as well as postural damage, e.g. on the spine. This tension can trigger sharp pain in the chest and often occurs at rest. That is why you should pay attention to a straight posture when sitting: Hanging shoulders and a rounded back are taboo.

Also read our article: Chest pain from tension

When a headache occurs

Headache cannot be the cause of sharp pain in the chest. However, if they occur as an accompanying symptom, i.e. at the same time as a stinging in the chest, this can be an indication of a Heart disease or too high Blood pressure be. If headaches and stinging in the chest occur more frequently and / or for several minutes, the symptoms should be clarified by a doctor.

By occurring earache

Typically, earache and stinging in the chest do not go hand in hand. High blood pressure can cause a stinging sensation in the chest, but is more likely to cause pain in the ear Ringing in the ears how tinnitus. Tension in the spine can radiate into the area behind the ears and cause a stinging sensation in the chest at the same time. It is also conceivable that an infection of the upper respiratory tract could lead to both ear and pneumonia. This could cause earache and stinging in the chest at the same time. It is more likely, however, that the earache nothing with the stinging in the chest have to do.

From pneumonia

Pneumonia may also cause sharp pain in the chest, typically on the side that is affected by the inflammation. The stinging occurs more frequently when inhaling on and can in the Upper abdomen radiate, in children abdominal pain is possible anywhere. Other symptoms of pneumonia include a high fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, and discolored cough discharge.

Also read our article:Pneumonia symptoms

From heartburn

With heartburn it comes to Reflux of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. Here the acidic gastric juice then triggers pain. Typically, affected patients describe a burning sensation behind the heart, but it is also possible that heartburn is felt as pressure or stinging in the chest. heartburn occurs particularly often after large and fatty meals and when lying down.

Test right chest pain

They suffer Pain in the right chest area?
Answer to this 10 quick questions and find out what is causing your chest pain and whether it is dangerous. Click here to go directly to the Test right chest pain.

A pinched nerve

In medicine, a “pinched nerve” is actually only understood to mean one irritation of the affected nerve. This does not have to be jammed in the literal sense, a hardening or Tension the surrounding Musculature is already sufficient to "annoy" the nerve. Typically, a pinched nerve causes stabbing pain in the chest that can be severe at times. In addition, restricted mobility and possibly other symptoms such as tingling may occur. Many patients think of these symptoms as a heart problem. However, this would be more noticeable through prolonged stinging and shortness of breath. A medical examination is nevertheless useful in the event of persistent symptoms in order to rule out a serious illness.

You might also be interested in:Intercostal neuralgia

Stinging in the chest for localization

Localization on the left

Stinging in the chest on the left side can be caused by that heart be triggered, but also by harmless things be caused. If the cause is in the heart, the stinging occurs for several minutes and can radiate to the chin and left arm. Affected patients also experience chest tightness, shortness of breath and often fear of death. The pain caused by the stinging is very intense when you have a heart attack. Stinging in the chest on the left side can, for example, also be caused by a overload during sport (stitch) or by a Nerve irritation near the spine or on the costal arch. Other possibilities are muscular tension and indurationcaused by incorrect posture, for example when working on a computer. Breath-dependent sharp pain is most likely to suggest a problem with the muscles, bones, or pleura (see also:Painful breathing). A stinging in the left side of the chest should be urgently examined by a doctor if there are accompanying symptoms suspecting a heart attack.

You might also be interested in: Left chest pain

Localization on the right

The causes of chest pain localized to the right are very similar to those localized to the left. Of course, when stinging on the right side of the chest, the heart is less of the cause. Otherwise, however, many causes are possible: Irritation of one Intercostal nerve or one Tension of the back muscles On the right side, "pinched nerve“On the right, one lung infection or one pleurisy. Other possible causes are a Collapsed lungs (Pneumothorax) of the right side, a Pulmonary embolism, Difficulty swallowing Etc.

Do you suffer from right chest pain? Find out the causes belowChest pain on the right - these are the causes!or Stinging in the right chest

Breathing condition

When inhaling

When you breathe in, the chest rises and its girth increases as the ribs move forward to allow air to flow into the lungs. When you breathe in, many different muscles are active: the diaphragm, the intercostal muscles, the chest muscles and some of the shoulder and back muscles. Are these Tense muscles or is a Irritated nerve, which provides these muscles with information from the brain, then when you inhale a stinging sensation occurs in the chest. Typically, a stinging stinging occurs in the chest when inhaling as well when breathing Pneumothorax (Lung collapse), in which the lungs have collapsed due to a leak between the lung tissue and the pleura. Also with the pleurisy the stinging is more likely to occur when breathing in, because when breathing in, the pleura is stretched by the unfolding of the chest. For functional heart problems caused by a Excessive stress and through Overwhelming When triggered, a stinging stinging sensation in the chest is also common when inhaling.

On exhaling

If the stinging occurs in the chest, especially when exhaling, this can be caused by the muscles involved in breathing triggered (see above). Irritated or “pinched” nerves can also trigger a stinging sensation when you exhale, because they are additionally irritated by the movement of the chest. Tension in the back muscles or vertebral body blockages can also be responsible for a sharp pain when exhaling, as they are moved and displaced against each other by exhaling. If the stinging in the chest when exhaling is combined with attacks of shortness of breath, a tightness in the chest and a whistling sound, this could be a Asthma attack be responsible for the stinging on the exhale.

The diagnosis of stinging in the chest

The symptom "stinging in the chest" can be caused by many different diseases. To make a good diagnosis, the attending physician must first ask questions about the exact nature of the pain, its severity, and its timing. A physical exam follows to see if the pain is e.g. movement dependent is triggered. Possible further examinations are, depending on the doctor's suspicion, a EKG, a laboratory examination, an ultrasound examination or imaging using CT or MRI. Not all of these examinations are always useful, depending on the type of pain described, you can therefore different procedures to be selected.

Concomitant symptoms

Depending on what accompanying symptoms occur with the stinging in the chest, others may Diseases be the cause of the discomfort. Here are a few examples.

  • Palpitations, Cardiac arrhythmias: Indication of a heart disease

  • fever: Joins PericarditisPleurisy, pneumonia or simple colds together with a stinging in the chest.

  • Shortness of breath: In the event of a heart attack, asthma, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia or pneumothorax

  • Circulatory problems, Dizziness: For high blood pressure, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, aortic dissection (splitting of the wall layers of the main artery, pneumothorax (lung collapse)

  • Back pain: For tension, hardening of the muscles, for "pinched" nerves.

  • heartburn, difficulties swallowing: For diseases of the esophagus

  • Bloating: For diseases of the stomach, e.g. a hernia (part of the stomach is in the chest)

Read more on the subject at:Heart attack

                                                        Pulmonary embolism

Aortic dissection

Back pain

Back pain is a common symptom of sharp pain in the chest. Lots of people suffer because of too little movement and one wrong sitting posture, e.g. during your professional activity in the office, under Tension the back muscles or so-called Vertebral body blockages. As a result of this tension, nerves are stimulated either at their exit points from the spine or during their course to the muscles they supply. These Nerve irritation then become noticeable as a short stinging in the chest, usually at rest or during other movements.

You can find out what you can do against back pain in our article:Back pain- what can you do?


Stinging in the chest, which occurs at the same time as feeling dizzy, may result psychological causes or through Diseasesthat affect the cardiovascular system are explained. Psychological causes include one Panic attack, Stress and excessive demands. If these anxiety states occur more often, one speaks of one Panic disorder. High blood pressure can cause stinging in the chest and dizziness, as can a (small) pulmonary embolism. Another possible cause is, for example, a heart attack, which in most cases would cause additional symptoms.

Shortness of breath / shortness of breath

Stinging in the chest, which occurs along with shortness of breath or shortness of breath, may be an indication of a Lung disease be. Possible causes are: pneumothorax (lung collapse), pulmonary embolism, pneumonia or asthma. That too heart may cause a stinging sensation in the chest combined with shortness of breath. One is conceivable hereAngina pectoris (Heart attack), a heart attack, or an aortic dissection. Also psychological causese.g. stress or a panic attack can cause a stinging in the chest and shortness of breath at the same time.

Treatment / therapy

Treatment and therapy for stinging in the chest depend on the cause:

  • heart: A heart attack is caused by the reopening of the sealed vessel by inserting a Stents (Stent) or by trying to dissolve the clot with medication. Patients then have to take medication for life to reduce the likelihood of having another heart attack. Pericarditis will depend on the cause Antibiotics, With Anti-inflammatories or cortisone treated.
  • Vessels: An aortic dissection is an emergency operated on become.
  • high blood pressure: If you have a high blood pressure crisis, drugs are given to lower your blood pressure.
  • lung: Pulmonary embolism is treated by removing the clot, either with surgery or with medication. A pneumothorax is caused by the inlay of a Chest drain (Tube between lung tissue and chest wall to deflate the air) treated.
  • esophagus: Heartburn can be improved by the administration of drugs that reduce the Inhibit acid production. Tears in the mucous membrane of the esophagus are treated endoscopically (principle of gastroscopy).

Also read our article: Chest drain

Implantation of a stent after a heart attack

The duration / prognosis of a stitch in the chest

The prognosis for stinging in the chest varies depending on the underlying condition. Stinging in the chest occurs due to a heart attack over several minutes and causes severe pain, the prognosis after a heart attack always includes the risk of having another heart attack. If the stinging in the chest is triggered by an incorrect posture, it usually only occurs briefly, but instead several times a day. The prognosis is good if the tension is countered with exercise and the right posture.

Course of the disease when stabbing in the chest

The course of stinging in the chest varies depending on the cause. In the diseases that can be traced back to the heart, lungs and esophagus, the course of the disease is often chronic. Even if the stinging stops in the chest (e.g. after a heart attack), the patient will still be lifelong afterwards heart disease and require drug therapy. More acute illnessesthat cause a stinging in the chest have one shorter course of disease. A Pneumothorax is mostly after few days healed, one lung infection after about two weeks.

How contagious is that?

There is stinging in the chest non-infectiousbecause the diseases that cause a stinging in the chest are not transmitted by contagious pathogens. Stinging in the chest is usually caused by problems that affect the heart, cardiovascular system, lungs or esophagus and are not contagious. Contagious are a lung infection or infection with Coxsackie B Virus (can cause Bornholm disease, see above). Since these diseases can (but do not have to) trigger stinging in the chest, a stinging in the chest is maximally indirectly contagious.

Stinging in the nipple

At breastfeeding mothers injury to the nipple from sucking the baby is the most likely cause of the nipple stinging. Not only does this stinging need to occur during breastfeeding if it is caused by an injured nipple, but it can also occur during a pause in breastfeeding. Another option is one Inflammation of the nipplewhich can also occur in non-breastfeeding women. Some women are very sensitive to it cold and sometimes have a stinging sensation in the nipples when they are cold. Unfortunately, a stinging nipple can also occur Notice for breast cancer be. If the stinging lasts there for a long time, blood or wound secretion flows from the nipple or if a hardening can be felt in the breast: You should definitely see a gynecologist!

Read more at: Pain in the nipple

Stinging in the chest while breastfeeding

There are several causes of breast stinging while breastfeeding. By a strained postureFor example, bending forward too much or holding the baby tight can lead to tension in the back muscles. On the one hand this leads to back pain, on the other hand it can irritate the nerves that supply the muscles of the chest and chest. This irritation may manifest as a stinging sensation. Another possibility is an incorrect system technology and / or a incorrect suction behavior of the baby. If necessary, you should seek help from a midwife or lactation consultant (or an experienced mother) and have the donning checked. One is also conceivable Thrush infection (Candida yeast infection) of the mammary glands causing the sharp pain. Mother and child then both have to come along Anti-fungal agents be treated. A thrush infection can occur on one or both sides. Also are Inflammation of the mammary glands or the Milk ducts Possible in breastfeeding mothers, which can cause an uncomfortable stinging. Perhaps the nipples have also been injured from breastfeeding and heavy sucking of the child. Is there long lasting problems while breastfeeding, or chest pain, is a Gynecologist visit advisable to find the cause and treat it.

Read more at: Painful breastfeeding

Problems during breastfeeding in the mother

Stinging in the chest during pregnancy

Many women complain about a pregnancy, especially at the beginning Tension of the breasts. The simple explanation is that hormonal remodeling processes by the hormone prolactin in the body, which causes the mammary glands and milk ducts to grow. A more serious condition with stinging in the chest during pregnancy is the Pulmonary embolism. During pregnancy, the risk of developing blood clots is increased, so pulmonary embolisms are also more common than in non-pregnant women. Typically, the stinging in the chest is then dependent on breathing, and it may also come Shortness of breath added.

You can find more on the topic at:Breast pain in pregnancy

Chest tightening during pregnancy

Stinging in the chest when coughing

If the chest stinging when you cough, a cold or the Virus flu be the cause. Especially when there are other symptoms such as fever, runny nose and malaise. Otherwise, there will be a stinging in the chest when coughing, even with one lung infection, at a Inflammation of the esophagus or if you have a pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

Also read our article:Therapy for a cold

Stinging in the chest while drinking

Sharp chest pain can occur when drinking either tohot or too cold is when one drinks too fast or if you choke while drinking and some of the liquid mistakenly gets into your windpipe. If there is more stinging in the chest while drinking, this may be an indication of a Disease of the esophagus be, e.g. a swallowing disorder, a Inflammation of the esophagus, a hernia at the junction of the stomach or a tumor that narrows the esophagus and causes pain.

additional Information

Further information can be found at:

All topics from the field of chest pain can be found at: Internal medicine A-Z

Quality assurance by: Dr. Nicolas Gumpert | Last change: 03.04.2021