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I am 19 years old and currently in college. In mid-October I was diagnosed with pneumonia after I had strange chest congestion, chest pain, and oddly-colored mucus. I was a heavy smoker (pipe tobacco, the occasional cigaratte, and marijuana) at the time. I was given antibiotic treatment (zithromax) for five days. On at least one occasion (I think twice, actually) during this recovery period I attempted to smoke marijuana but only took a few VERY small hits (BAD idea). I believe this may have caused more problems.

I then waited a couple weeks and tried using a vaporizer (which takes a smokeable substance and vaporizes it so you don't inhale any tar/carcinogens/smoke, just the active chemicals and flavor compounds. It is a "cleaner" way of "smoking"), although this still caused some pain. I then did nothing related to smoking, etc., until my Thanksgiving break, where I tried once more to smoke, and it STILL caused pain/pressure. I have not smoked/vaporized anything since then. It is now mid-January. I should also add that a drink occasionally, being a college student, and I drink moderately to heavily at least once a week on average (but probably twice is more typical).

Since I was diagnosed with pneumonia I have had these recurring chest pains. I wouldn't really describe it as a pain so much as a discomfort. It feels like a pressure in the middle of my chest, in the sternum area. While it doesn't cause a true shortness of breath, it makes taking a full, comfortable breath significantly more difficult. Stretching or taking heavy breaths seems to help somewhat. I noticed today that streatching back very far seems to make it crack a little bit, sort of like cracking your knuckles.

This discomfort often occurs at rest or at random times, although there seems like there could be some relation to being in a hunched-over position. Sometimes I feel like it's more prevalent after a night of drinking, although maybe it's just coincidence. I have not monitored its relation to alcohol consumption that closely.

It feels like it's in the sternum cartiledge/chest wall area, though my biggest concern is that it is a form of angina (though it seems to me that I'm way too young to be at risk for angina). I am in relatively good physical condition. I am not overweight. I have never exercised that regularly but I have started going to the gym at school. I am not under any noticeable large amount of stress either.

I have repeatedly seen the health care people at school and spoken to various doctors at home about it, and they all seem to think it's probably pleurisy related to pneumonia, but it doesn't really fit the description of pleuritic chest pain, nor is it accompanied by any of the other symptoms. It lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.

What could be causing this?? Please offer some insight.


I have talked to many doctors and they all give me the same diag. the crackling in the sternum area is blown off. I have a constant pain also, but it is right side chest. I don't drink though, so it probably isn't alcohol related...


I've had this same pain for almost 12 years, and your right. I got it when I had pneumonia in Basic Training in the army. I've gone to many doctors and they said it was an inflammation of my sternum. Most just gave me ibuprofen and said it would go away. If i pop a few 200mg I won't get it. I too have and do drink somewhat heavily, although usually on weekends. Usually get it when hunched over my computer and relaxing my shoulders makes it go away. Described as a sharp knife like pain in the middle of my chest lasting only about a second or 2.