When you have the flu does your chest hurt?

Ah, flu season. That time of year when we all get to snuggle up in our beds with a box of tissues and curse those pesky germs that just won’t go away. But aside from the runny nose, sore throat, and general feeling of malaise that comes with the flu, you may be wondering: does your chest hurt too? And if so, why?

What is the flu anyway?

Before we dive into whether or not your chest hurts when you have the flu, let’s take a quick look at what exactly the flu is (spoiler alert: it’s not just a bad cold). The influenza virus (yes, there are actually several different strains) attacks your respiratory system (fancy talk for your lungs and airways). This can lead to all sorts of symptoms like fever and chills (cue intense shivering), coughing (typical soundtrack for this time of year), headaches (just because having one symptom isn’t enough, apparently) , muscle pain (because who doesn’t love feeling like they’ve been hit by a bus)…you get the idea.

So does your chest hurt when you have the flu?

Okay okay okay sorry for getting sidetracked there. Back to our original question: does your chest hurt when you have the flu? The answer is…maybe.

It depends on which strain you have

Different types of influenza viruses can cause slightly different symptoms (ugh), so depending on which strain you’re dealing with(if only we could avoid them all…)

Some strains more than otherss.

Some strains tend to result in more respiratory symptoms like coughing than others (great news!).

Coughing can make its way down further into bronchial tubes

If your cough is particularly productive, meaning it’s producing a lot of mucus, that can make its way down further into your bronchial tubes (these are the airways that lead to your lungs) and cause some pain or discomfort.

In severe cases, pneumonia can develop

In more severe cases (now this is where things start getting really fun) the virus can actually infect the lung tissue itself (this is called pneumonia), which can result in chest pain as well.(whoopie..)

So…in summary? The flu MIGHT cause chest pain. But even if it doesn’t, you’re still stuck dealing with all those other lovely symptoms so…yay?

What else could be causing my chest pain?

But hold up! Just because you have chest pain when you’re sick doesn’t automatically mean it’s related to the flu. There are lots of other potential causes like(wonderful…more possible sicknesses):

  • A cold
  • Bronchitis (inflammation/infection of bronchial tubes)
  • Pneumonia (we already warned you)
  • Asthma
  • GERD/reflux (when stomach acid makes its way up into your esophagus) – this one might surprise you but trust us, it happens!

The good news? You don’t necessarily need to know exactly what’s causing your chest pain (because let’s face it there’s no easy cure for anything right now). If it persists or gets worse though(or duh- worsens) , definitely see a doctor just in case.

When should I worry about my chest hurting?

Ah yes, fear-mongering time. As with any medical symptom there comes a point where you need to ask yourself: “should I be worried?” Here are some signs that suggest maybe going on WebMD isn’t enough anymore:

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing(never ok people)

If you’re feeling like you can’t get enough air or just generally having trouble breathing, don’e wait to reach out to a healthcare professional. Shortness of breath could be an indication of pneumonia (told ya it was coming back) or another serious condition.

Chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes.

If the discomfort in your chest is pretty persistent, definitely reach out and see if you should make an appointment with your doctor (unless recommending against waiting– we didn’t say we always remember everything). Even if it’s not related to the flu (which again..it might not be), there are plenty of other things it could be that require medical attention

So what do I do about my chest pain?

Here’s some good news

Okay okay, so maybe we’ve been overwhelming you lately with all these potential causes for your suffering.It’s now time for a little hope(& solutions!)


First and foremost: REST.Your body is working hard fighting off this infection so give yourself permission to lay down on the couch and binge-watch tv shows/ read books/listen(though listening feels like work when sick) music as long as needed. (remember keeping calm never hurt anyone)

Over-the-counter medication(perhaps consult with a doc first)

Many over-the-counter cold remedies contain ingredients designed to soothe coughs (want absolution ask someone qualified though) – this may help relieve any associated chest discomfort.(even doctors recommend trying them before escalating symptoms further hoping they’d go away miraculously)

Stay Hydrated

Drinking fluids ,as referred by many experts,is essential(if only drinking water wasn’t such heavy lifting at times)when sick. By boosting blood flow(which yeah sure who knows how that happens?) turns around making mucus less viscous,(nerd lingo=thick)also keeps from dehydration.And since taking medications for prolonged periods of time can result in dehydration(best not to keep yourself double checked)

Keep a humidifier

Adding moisture into the air may help ease coughing and your breathing (amazing what healthy lifestyle choices can do huh?). If you don’t have a humidifier, taking a steamy shower or releasing aromatherapy/happy vibes through good smells essential oils around your living space while sipping tea could do the job as well.(hypothetically speaking that is)

Seek medical attention if:

If your symptoms are prolonged or worsening then it’s worth it to seek out medical attention ASAP for testing(yet again we didn’t predict an easy way out)

While chest pain isn’t ALWAYS associated with the flu,it’s pretty common. But hopefully,you’ve learned some new techniques to alleviate(unless its worse than just aching)special emphasis on treating conditions atits initial stagessome discomfort while supporting immune system(reduces increase in severity)However,if emergency does call-hopefully now you’ll know when it’s worthwhile seeking assistance.

Stay Safe and Healthy!

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