What Causes Cold Icy Feeling in My Chest?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Mandy Liedeman


Experiencing a cold, icy feeling in the chest can be alarming and perplexing. This unusual and unexpected sensation is often described as a menthol or cooling feeling that can range in intensity from mild discomfort to sharp, severe pain. It is crucial to approach this symptom cautiously and seek appropriate medical attention when necessary, as it may indicate underlying conditions.

There are several potential causes for this cold, icy feeling in the chest. Common culprits include heartburn or acid reflux, Respiratory infections, the common cold or more severe conditions like bronchitis or pneumonia, and Emotional factors. Severe causes include heart attack or Angina. Nerve irritation, as in trigeminal neuralgia or topical medications such as menthol-based creams or gels used for muscle pain relief, can create a cooling sensation on the skin and be perceived internally in the chest.

While some causes of a chest feeling cold may be relatively benign or temporary, it is crucial to consider the presence of accompanying symptoms, the duration and intensity of the sensation, and any known risk factors. Seeking prompt medical attention is advised if there is severe or worsening chest pain, pain radiating to the arm, jaw, neck, or back, shortness of breath, dizziness, profuse sweating, fainting, loss of consciousness, or a history of heart disease or risk factors.

What other symptoms can accompany a cold feeling in the chest?

The symptoms accompanying a cold or menthol feeling in the chest can vary depending on the underlying cause. Here are some common symptoms that may be experienced along with chest feeling cold:

Chest discomfort

It can range from a mild sensation of coolness or menthol-like feeling to a more intense, sharp pain or pressure in the chest.

Burning sensation 

Some individuals may describe the feeling as a burning sensation in the chest, which can be associated with acid reflux or heartburn.

Shortness of breath 

Difficulty breathing or a sensation of breathlessness may occur along with a cold or icy feeling in the chest.

Chest tightness 

A constricting or tightening sensation in the chest can accompany the menthol feeling, particularly in cases of anxiety or angina.

Radiating pain

The cold sensation may extend beyond the chest area and radiate to other body parts, such as the arm, jaw, neck, or back. This is important, especially in the context of heart-related issues.

Numbness or tingling 

Some individuals may experience a numb or tingling sensation along with the cool feeling in the chest, mainly if nerves in the chest are involved or if anxiety is a contributing factor.

Other associated symptoms

Additional symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, fever, sweating, dizziness, palpitations, or gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or regurgitation may be present.

It is essential to note that these symptoms can be non-specific and may overlap with various conditions.

If you are unsure about your symptoms you can consult a doctor online.

Chest Cold vs Cold Feeling in the Chest

Chest Cold

A chest cold is a bronchi inflammation. It is sometimes referred to as acute bronchitis. Although bacteria can potentially cause it, viruses typically cause it. The majority of people recover from chest colds in a few weeks.

The symptoms of a chest cold include:

  • Cough,
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness,
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Runny nose,
  • Sore throat.

Relaxing and hydrating yourself if you have a chest cold is crucial. To treat your symptoms, you can also use over-the-counter drugs. You should consult a doctor if your symptoms are severe or disappear after a few weeks. 

Cold feeling in the Chest 

It’s crucial to consult a doctor if you experience a cold sensation in your chest so they can discover the cause. Depending on the underlying disease, the course of treatment may differ.

Several factors, including the following, can result in a cold sensation in the chest:

  • Chest cold
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Heartburn
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Indigestion
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Here is a table that explains the key differences between a chest cold and a cold feeling in the chest:

CharacteristicChest ColdCold Feeling in the Chest
CauseVirus or bacteriaVaries
SymptomsCough, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, fever, runny nose, sore throatMenthol feeling in the chest, chest pain, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting
DurationUsually resolves within a few weeksCan last for days or weeks
TreatmentRest, fluids, over-the-counter medicationsTreatment depends on the underlying condition
Click to reach a doctor if you are experiencing an icy cold feeling in your chest.

What Causes Cold Feelings in My Chest?

Various factors can cause cold feelings in the chest. Some possible causes include:

Cold Weather or Exposure

Exposure to cold temperatures, especially without adequate protection, can cause a feeling of coldness in the chest.

Certain conditions affecting the nerves, such as neuropathy or nerve compression, can cause abnormal sensations, including a cold feeling in the chest.

Circulation Issues

Problems with blood flow, such as poor circulation or vasoconstriction, can result in reduced blood flow to the chest, leading to a sensation of coldness.

Heartburn or Acid Reflux

Heartburn (acid reflux) is a burning sensation in the chest when stomach acid runs back into the esophagus. This discomfort might occasionally be felt as a cold or ice sensation.

Respiratory Infections

Due to inflammation or irritation of the airways, viral or bacterial infections of the respiratory system, such as bronchitis, the common cold or pneumonia, can result in chest pain and a chilly sensation.

Anxiety and Panic Attacks 

Intense anxiety or panic attacks can manifest with physical symptoms, including chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a sensation of coldness or numbness in the chest.


Chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscles is known as angina. It can manifest as a sensation of pressure, squeezing, or a cold feeling in the chest. Hence, Angina may be a symptom of underlying heart disease.

Heart Attack

Reduced blood flow or blockage of blood flow can cause a heart attack. Alongside chest pain, shortness of breath, and arm or jaw pain, some individuals may experience a cold or icy feeling in the chest.

Nerve Irritation

Irritation or inflammation of the nerves in the chest wall, known as intercostal neuralgia, can cause localized chest pain and unusual sensations, including a cooling feeling.

Pulmonary Embolism 

The most frequent and deadly cause of pleuritic chest pain is pulmonary embolism, the occlusion of a blood vessel in the lungs. Pleuritic refers to an inflammatory condition of the tissues brought on by pleurisy. When breathing, pleuritic chest pain feels severe, searing, stabbing, or sharp.


When the lining of the esophagus becomes irritated, enlarged, or inflamed, esophagitis develops. The most frequent cause of esophagitis, acid reflux, can result in a burning or cold sensation in the chest.

Stomach Ulcer

Peptic ulcers are open sores in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract lining, often called gastric or duodenal ulcers. While searing pain in the belly is the most typical symptom, some persons may also experience burning chest discomfort.

Medications or Topical Products 

Certain medications or topical products, such as menthol-based creams or gels used for muscle pain relief, can create a cooling sensation on the skin. If applied to the chest, this sensation may also be felt internally.

Other Causes

Various other potential causes for a cold or icy feeling in the chest include muscle strains, allergies, certain lung conditions, or even pain from different body areas.

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Management and Treatment of Icy Cold Feeling in the Chest

The treatment or management of a cold feeling in the chest depends on the underlying cause. Here are some common approaches:

Heartburn or Acid Reflux

Smaller meals, avoiding lying down right after eating, and avoiding trigger foods are just a few examples of lifestyle changes that can help lessen symptoms significantly. Additionally, Antacids or acid reducers sold over the counter might help. In more severe cases, it could be essential to use prescription drugs or have surgery.

Respiratory Infections

Above all, Rest, staying hydrated, and over-the-counter chest cold remedies like cough suppressants or decongestants may help manage symptoms. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial chest infections.

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness exercises, and therapy are anxiety management techniques that can help reduce symptoms. Anti-anxiety drugs may occasionally be provided for momentary relief.

Angina or Heart Disease

Medications, e.g. nitroglycerin, beta-blockers, or calcium channel blockers, which enhance blood flow and lighten the burden on the heart, may be used as part of the treatment. Lifestyle changes, e.g. stopping smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising frequently, and managing stress, can help significantly. In specific circumstances, invasive operations like coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or angioplasty may be required.

Nerve Irritation or Intercostal Neuralgia

Treatment options may include pain management techniques, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), local anesthetics, or nerve blocks. Physical therapy or alternative therapies like acupuncture may also be considered.

Other Causes

The exact underlying problem will dictate the course of treatment. As an illustration, rest, cold or heat therapy, and painkillers may be used to treat muscular strains. Antihistamines or allergy injections may be necessary for allergies. Speaking with a healthcare professional is imperative for a precise diagnosis and the most suitable course of action.

In all cases, it is essential to follow the guidance of a doctor. Self-diagnosis and self-medication should be avoided, as they may not address the root cause of the cold feeling in the chest and could potentially lead to complications. If the symptoms are severe, persistent, or associated with concerning signs such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Treatment for cold icy feeling depends on the cause. Get consultation online

How to Prevent Cold Sensation in the Chest?

Preventing a cold sensation in the chest involves addressing the underlying causes that contribute to this sensation. Here are some general preventive measures that can help significantly:

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Eat a balanced diet: To support general health and immunological function, include a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
  • Exercise regularly: Moderate physical activity promotes cardiovascular health and strengthens the respiratory system.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can increase the risk of acid reflux and other conditions that may contribute to a cold sensation in the chest.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can irritate the respiratory system and also contribute to chest discomfort and respiratory conditions. Hence, Seek support and resources to quit smoking if needed.

Manage Stress and Anxiety:

  • Practice stress management techniques: Engage in relaxation exercises, e.g. deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can contribute to chest discomfort.
  • Seek support: If you experience persistent anxiety or stress, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor.

Avoid Triggers:

  • Identify and avoid trigger foods: Certain foods, such as spicy or fatty foods, caffeine, and citrus fruits, can trigger acid reflux and heartburn. Please pay attention to your triggers and minimize their consumption.

Practice Good Posture:

  • Maintain proper posture: Poor posture can contribute to chest discomfort. Sit and stand upright to reduce pressure on the chest and esophagus.

Stay Hydrated:

  •  Staying hydrated helps moisten the respiratory tract, and also supports optimal lung function.

Seek Prompt Treatment:

  • Work closely with your healthcare practitioner to successfully manage and treat any known conditions you may have, such as heart disease, GERD, or acid reflux.

Avoid Exposure to Environmental Irritants:

  • Minimize exposure to cold air, particularly in individuals sensitive to cold temperatures. Dress warmly and cover your chest adequately in cold weather.
  • Avoid exposure to air pollution, smoke, and also other environmental irritants that can irritate the respiratory system and potentially trigger chest discomfort.

Practice Good Respiratory Hygiene:

  • Cover your mouth with a tissue, hand or elbow when sneezing and coughing to stop the transmission of respiratory illnesses.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces to minimize the risk of viral or bacterial infections.

Stay Vaccinated:

  • Keep current with recommended vaccinations, including annual influenza (flu) vaccines, to reduce the likelihood of respiratory infections.

Maintain a Healthy Immune System:

  • Get adequate sleep: Aim for 8 hours of sound sleep each night to support a robust immune system.
  • Manage chronic conditions: Take steps to effectively manage chronic conditions, such as asthma or allergies, as they can increase the risk of respiratory symptoms.
  • Consider immune-boosting measures: Incorporate immune-boosting foods into your diet, such as fruits that are rich in vitamin C and vegetables that are high in antioxidants. Additionally, consult with a healthcare professional about the potential benefits of supplements, if necessary.

Practice Good Hand Hygiene:

  • Wash hands, especially before using the restroom, right before eating, and right after being in public.

Consult a Doctor

While a cold or icy feeling in the chest can be benign and temporary, paying attention to accompanying symptoms, the duration and intensity of the sensation, and any known risk factors is essential. Seeking medical attention is advised in the following situations:

  • Severe or worsening chest pain or discomfort.
  • Chest pain radiating to the arm, jaw, neck, or back.
  • Shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness.
  • History of heart disease or risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
  • 2 minutes or longer of chest, upper abdominal, or back pain Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, Confusion, or odd behaviour
  • Severe or abrupt pain
  • Strange stomach ache


How do you get rid of a chest cold naturally?

To naturally alleviate a chest cold, try staying hydrated with fluids like water and herbal tea, using steam inhalation or humidifiers, gargling warm salt water, using saline nasal rinses, consuming natural expectorants like honey and ginger, getting adequate rest, and maintaining a balanced diet. Additionally, Consider herbal remedies like echinacea, elderberry, or pelargonium for immune support.

What does anxiety chest pain feel like?

It is characterized as a sharp or stabbing pain, tightness or pressure in the chest, or a burning or tingling sensation. The discomfort may come and go and spread to the shoulders, arms, or jaw, and also among other places. It is significant to emphasize that anxiety-related chest pain frequently has nothing to do with exercise or other physical activities. While chest pain brought on by anxiety usually goes away when anxiety levels drop.

Why do I feel a warm sensation in my chest?

It may be due to heartburn or acid reflux, anxiety or stress, vasodilation of blood vessels, hot flashes during menopause, inflammation or infection in the chest area, or medication side effects.

What is pain on the left side of the chest and shoulder blade?

Various factors can cause pain on the left side of the chest. Musculoskeletal issues, cardiac conditions like angina or heart attack, gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux or gastritis, respiratory conditions like pneumonia or pleurisy, and nerve-related issues can all contribute to left-sided chest pain.

Why does my heart feel cold?

A cold-hearted feeling can stem from bodily responses to stress or anxiety, releasing hormones that lead to physical symptoms like chest chills. Emotional coldness can result from grief, loneliness, or bereavement, making it challenging to establish meaningful connections and feel warmth.

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