ZocdocAnswersWhat is this feeling after I cough?

Question

What is this feeling after I cough?

I have asthma and use and inhaler, which I've been doing for years. Lately, after I cough, I get a funny feeling in my chest. It is like a fluttering just under my sternum but it doesn't feel like it is my heart. What's going on?

Answer

The most common funny sensation that can occur in the chest after a strong cough is something called a vasovagal reaction. Basically what happens in this setting is that the coughing stimulates nerve ending which temporarily cause the heart to slow down before speeding back up. This can create a very funny 'fluttering feeling' in the chest which should resolve within a few seconds after the coughing episode. Similarly, a strong coughing episode may provoke a spasm in the muscles between the ribs, which might be felt like a strange 'fluttering' or 'cramping' sensation in the chest. I would suggest that you talk to your primary care doctor about this issue. I say this first because, although based on the examples I have given you, it is unlikely that this sensation is a related to a serious medical problem, it is impossible to rule out a more serious heart or lung cause without a full medical examination, which your doctor can do for you. Also, if you are having as frequent episodes of strong coughing as it sounds like you are, then your asthma is probably not well controlled, and you need to talk to your doctor about increasing or changing your asthma medications.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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