Here’s what to do if your 13 year old’s chest hurts upon inhaling, and what the possible causes are including a heart problem.

It is not normal at all for a child of 13, or any child, to experience chest pain when they breathe in.

It’s abnormal if pain in the chest occurs at any time during respiration.

If your adolescent is complaining that their chest hurts while breathing, do not ever brush this off.

Do not try to convince yourself it’s due to stress from studying hard, anxiety before a sporting event, or a response to overworking or fatigue.

Something is wrong if your teen reports chest pain with each breath.

What would make a 13 year old’s chest hurt when they inhale?

“A common cause of chest pain on inhalation is muscle pain, such as a muscle sprain,” says Dr. Lisa Lewis, MD, a board certified pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas, and author of “Feed the Baby Hummus, Pediatrician-Backed Secrets from Cultures Around the World.”

“If this is the case, the pain will typically be on the rib cage and sore to touch,” adds Dr. Lewis.

Furthermore, the discomfort might be elicited upon certain body positions such as raising the arms over the head or trying a pushup.

If not, this does NOT rule out an over-taxed muscle. A doctor will know what to check for if a musculoskeletal strain is suspected.

“Children with bronchitis or asthma can get chest pain, which will typically be present with coughing,” continues Dr. Lewis.

“Pneumonia may cause chest pain with inhalation, as can pleurisy. Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs. Often the pain is sharp and feels ‘deep.’ There is no muscle tenderness.

Heart problem in a teen?

“In the teenage age group, inhaling with chest pain as a SOLO symptom is unlikely to be a cardiac (heart) problem,” explains Dr. Lewis.

“Typically cardiac pain will have other symptoms associated with the chest pain on inhalation, such as shortness of breath.”

Other symptoms of a congenital heart disorder may include dizziness, fainting or feeling faint, and a suddenly racing heart – extremely fast, without exertion.

“If a 13 year old’s chest hurts when inhaling or for any other reason, the child should be examined by a doctor promptly to determine the cause.

“If chest pain is occurring persistently and the doctor’s office is closed, it’s best to go to the emergency department for an examination.

“Most cases of chest pain will minimally require ordering an EKG (electrocardiogram) and a chest X-ray.”

Never think that someone is immune to a serious heart problem just because that individual is a teen, tween or younger.

Having 25+ years’ experience, Dr. Lewis completed her pediatrics residency at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Scott and White Memorial Hospital. For two years afterward she was assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Texas A&M University Health Science Center.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/ANN PATCHANAN