Laughter is a great healer and a great source of stress for many people. For some people, especially those prone to heart disease, laughter may actually cause heart disease by weakening the heart’s elastic membrane, called the elasticity of the heart. Laughter sends endorphins into overdrive and has been known to lower blood pressure.
But the health benefits of laughter don’t stop there. Laughter is one of the most natural and enjoyable activities that humans can engage in. In fact, laughter is a universal human trait, with most people laughing on a regular basis. Laughter is so universal, that scientists have only recently begun to scratch the surface of its many benefits.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why your chest may hurt when you laugh, why it might hurt too much to stop laughing, and how to deal with it in the best way possible.
Why does my chest hurt when I laugh
Because the muscles in your chest and abdomen are contracting when you laugh, they put pressure on the surrounding tissue including organs such as your lungs, heart, and diaphragm. This pressure can cause pain or discomfort.
What Causes My Chest To Hurt When I Laugh?
Laughter and the muscles of the chest
Laughter is caused by the contraction of certain muscles in your torso, most notably the diaphragm, abdominal muscles, and intercostal (between rib) muscles. All of these muscles are controlled by a group of nerves called the phrenic nerve. The phrenic nerve innervates all of these muscles as well as several other groups of muscles that are responsible for breathing. When you laugh and these groups contract, your breath is momentarily stopped or at least severely restricted. This can cause pain when laughing too hard, especially if you have an underlying heart condition or respiratory problem.
Laughter and stress on the heart
As mentioned above, laughter causes strong contractions in your chest wall as well as your diaphragm and other internal organs. These contractions can put stress on your heart if you have a pre-existing heart condition or if you are particularly sensitive to this type of stress due to an underlying heart condition. This is especially true for people with a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, which is a thickening of the heart muscle that can lead to irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) and sudden cardiac arrest.
Laughter and the elasticity of the heart
As mentioned above, laughter can cause stress on your heart if you have a pre-existing heart condition or are sensitive to this type of stress. But did you know that laughter can actually cause your elasticity to weaken? The elasticity of your heart refers to how easily it can stretch out and then go back to its normal shape when it comes back together again. Too much stress on the heart can cause damage to the elastic membrane and make it more difficult for your heartbeat to pump blood around your body effectively. This is most common in older people who are prone to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, but younger people may also be susceptible if their hearts have been damaged by other factors.
Laughter and the lungs
Laughter can also cause stress on your lungs if you have a pre-existing respiratory problem or are particularly sensitive to this type of stress due to an underlying respiratory problem. For example, you may be more likely to develop a cough if you laugh too hard, especially if you already have asthma or another respiratory issue. Similarly, it is possible that laughter could lead to shortness of breath or even a full-blown asthma attack in people who are highly susceptible to this type of reaction.
Laughter and the diaphragm
Finally, laughter can also cause pain in your diaphragm, which is the muscle responsible for breathing as well as laughing. The same factors that make it difficult for your heart to pump blood around your body after laughing too hard will also make it harder for your diaphragm to contract effectively when you breathe. This can cause pain in the region of your chest wall where your diaphragm is located and can also lead to shortness of breath if you are not careful.
Laughter and the body’s pain control system
Laughter can cause stress on your body, including your nervous system. As a result, it can potentially cause damage to your nervous system over time if you laugh too much. This is especially true for people who have a condition known as central sensitization, which is when the nerves in your body become oversensitive to pain signals coming from within the nervous system.
Laughter and the immune system
As mentioned above, laughter may put stress on your immune system due to its effect on hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which are both associated with stress reactions in the body. Similarly, laughter may also put stress on your immune system by causing damage to cells or tissues in your body that are responsible for fighting off foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses.
Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Laugh?
1. A weak heart
If you have a weak heart, laughter may cause your chest to hurt due to the increased stress on your heart. This is especially true if you have a history of heart disease in your family.
2. A strong chest
If you have a strong chest, laughter can actually cause pain by increasing pressure in the chest cavity and squeezing the lungs and other organs inside the body. For example, if you take an inhaler for asthma, it can be difficult to breathe deeply when laughing, as this will increase pressure in your chest cavity and make asthma symptoms worse.
3. A tight diaphragm or rib muscles
In some cases, pain may be caused by overactive abdominal muscles or tight diaphragm muscles straining to keep the lungs inflated during bouts of laughter. In these cases, people may not find it painful at all when laughing softly, but painful when laughing hard or long enough that their breathing becomes labored from trying to hold in the laughter.
4. A heart murmur
If you have a heart murmur, your doctor may have advised you to avoid laughing as it can cause your heart to work harder and put a strain on the heart muscle.
5. A weak back or weak abdominal muscles
Weak abdominal muscles can lead to chronic back pain, so people with a history of back pain should be cautious about overstraining their abdominal muscles when laughing too hard or for too long. This is especially true for older adults who have had a lifetime of sitting in chairs, which weakens the core muscles and leads to chronic back pain and/or posture problems.
6. You’re not used to laughing hard enough to cause chest pain.
Laughter is an activity that most people engage in on a daily basis, but rarely at an intensity that causes them to stop because they are laughing too hard and too long that they begin breathing heavily or feel chest pains due to over-exertion. As such, it is possible that you are not used to laughing hard enough for your body to respond with pain, and you need to learn how to laugh more moderately and/or stop when you begin feeling chest pains due to over-exertion.
How To Stop Laughing When You Feel Like You Might Break
- If you are in a public place, look around very casually and see if anyone is watching you or even paying attention to what you’re doing. If no one is watching, tell yourself that it’s okay to laugh as hard as you want.
- If there are people around, then try to focus on something else for a moment. Maybe talk to someone about something other than the thing that made you laugh in the first place.
- Once you feel like your laughter is under control, go back and continue laughing at whatever it was that made you laugh in the first place.
- If the pain continues, try eating something sweet or drinking some sugar-free juice (like apple juice) before continuing to laugh at what made you laugh in the first place
- If none of these things work and/or if your chest pain continues after laughing has stopped, then call 911 immediately!
The Other Side Of The Coin
- Laughter is an endorphin release. Endorphins are a chemical in the brain that are highly addictive and can cause a feeling of euphoria.
- Laughter causes increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased breathing rate.
- Laughter can cause muscle spasms in the chest and abdomen, which is what might hurt so much when you laugh.
- If you’re laughing very hard, it can actually cause tears to form behind your eyes which will then drain into your sinus cavities and ears causing pressure pain in those areas as well as possible headaches as well (this is called sinus congestion).
- If you have had recent surgery on your abdomen or chest area, laughing could irritate the surgical site causing pain or even bleeding from the wound site that may require medical attention.
Laughs are a natural part of life – and when they hurt, it can be really tough to keep going. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know about why laughter causes chest pain and how to stop it from hurting. With detailed explanations and helpful tips, it will be easy to laugh without hurting – and you’ll be glad you did!