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Stomach Hurts When Coughing: Info, Prevention and Tips

Mar 01, 2024

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Experiencing stomach pain when coughing can be unsettling and uncomfortable, often sparking concerns about underlying health issues. This discomfort can result from increased abdominal pressure, underlying medical conditions such as GERD or hiatal hernia, or even muscular strain from persistent coughing. Understanding the causes, recognizing the risk factors, and knowing when to seek medical advice are crucial steps in managing this symptom. Our comprehensive exploration delves into prevention strategies, treatment options, and frequently asked questions to provide relief and understanding for those affected by this common but bothersome symptom.

stomach hurts when i cough

Why Does Stomach Hurts When You Cough?

Experiencing stomach pain when coughing can be both uncomfortable and concerning. This symptom can stem from a variety of causes, ranging from minor issues to more serious health conditions. Understanding these causes is the first step towards managing or treating the discomfort.

Increased Abdominal Pressure

One common reason for stomach pain when coughing is increased abdominal pressure. When you cough, your abdominal muscles contract forcefully. This sudden pressure can cause discomfort or pain, especially if you've been coughing frequently due to a respiratory infection or other reasons. Persistent coughing can strain these muscles, leading to soreness or pain in the stomach area.

Another factor contributing to increased abdominal pressure is conditions that inherently put more pressure on your abdomen. These include obesity, pregnancy, and even constipation. The additional pressure from coughing can exacerbate the discomfort felt in these cases, leading to noticeable pain when coughing.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Several underlying medical conditions can also cause stomach pain when coughing. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), where acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus, can cause a burning sensation and discomfort in the stomach area that worsens with coughing. Similarly, a hiatal hernia, which occurs when a part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm, can lead to stomach pain during coughing episodes.

Infections in the abdominal region, such as urinary tract infections or stomach viruses, can also make your stomach hurt when you cough. These conditions may cause inflammation or irritation in the stomach or surrounding areas, which is further aggravated by coughing.

Types of Stomach Pain When Coughing

Different areas of stomach pain can indicate various underlying issues. Here's a closer look at what pain in specific areas of your stomach might mean when you cough.

Left Side of Stomach Hurts When You Cough

Pain on the left side of the stomach when coughing could be indicative of conditions affecting organs located on this side, such as the left kidney, part of the colon, or the pancreas. For instance, an infection or inflammation in these organs can cause localized pain that becomes more pronounced with coughing.

Additionally, conditions like diverticulitis, where small bulging pouches in the digestive system become inflamed or infected, often cause pain on the left side of the abdomen. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30% of U.S. adults between the ages of 50 and 59 and more than 70% of those older than age 80 have diverticulosis, a condition that can lead to diverticulitis. Coughing can exacerbate the pain associated with this condition, making it a noticeable symptom that shouldn't be ignored.

Right Side of Stomach Hurts When You Cough

Pain on the right side of the stomach when coughing can point to issues with organs located on this side of the body, such as the liver, right kidney, gallbladder, or part of the colon. For example, gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) can cause significant pain on the right side, which may worsen with coughing.

Moreover, conditions like appendicitis start with generalized abdominal pain that often settles in the lower right side. If coughing leads to sharp pain in this area, it's crucial to seek medical attention promptly as appendicitis is a medical emergency.

Lower Stomach Hurts When You Cough

If your lower stomach hurts when you cough, it could be related to issues in the lower abdomen, including the bladder, uterus (in women), or lower intestines. Conditions such as urinary tract infections, ovarian cysts, or even early signs of a hernia in this region can cause pain that is heightened by coughing.

This type of pain can also be associated with muscular strain or injury from excessive coughing. The repetitive motion and pressure can strain the lower abdominal muscles, leading to discomfort or pain with each cough.

Upper Stomach Hurts When You Cough

Pain in the upper stomach when coughing often points to issues with the stomach, duodenum, or parts of the liver and pancreas. Conditions like peptic ulcers, which are sores on the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your intestine, can cause pain in this area that worsens with coughing.

GERD and hiatal hernias, as mentioned earlier, can also cause upper stomach pain when coughing. The act of coughing increases pressure in the abdominal cavity, which can exacerbate symptoms associated with these conditions, leading to discomfort or pain in the upper stomach.

Risk Factors for Stomach Pain When You Cough

Understanding the risk factors that contribute to experiencing stomach pain when coughing can help in preventing this uncomfortable symptom. Certain lifestyle choices and medical conditions can increase your susceptibility.

  • Obesity: Carrying extra weight increases pressure on your abdomen, making you more prone to experiencing discomfort when coughing.
  • Smoking: Tobacco use can exacerbate coughing and lead to conditions like chronic bronchitis, increasing the frequency and intensity of coughing episodes, which may result in stomach pain.
  • Chronic Respiratory Conditions: Conditions such as asthma or COPD can lead to persistent coughing, increasing the risk of abdominal discomfort.
  • Previous Abdominal Surgery: Scar tissue or changes in abdominal structure post-surgery can make you more sensitive to pain from coughing.

Complications from Stomach Pain Due to Coughing

While occasional stomach pain when coughing is often not a sign of a serious problem, ignoring persistent or severe symptoms can lead to complications.

  • Chronic Discomfort: Persistent coughing and resultant stomach pain can lead to ongoing discomfort, affecting daily activities and quality of life.
  • Worsening of Underlying Conditions: Without proper management, the conditions causing your stomach to hurt when you cough, such as GERD or hernias, can worsen.
  • Muscle Strain or Injury: Excessive coughing can strain or injure abdominal muscles, leading to more significant pain and potentially prolonged recovery periods.

How to Treat Stomach Pain When Coughing?

Managing and treating stomach pain when coughing involves addressing the underlying cause of the pain as well as relieving the symptom itself.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies

  • Rest and Hydration: Adequate rest and staying hydrated can help if your stomach pain when coughing is due to a viral infection or a cold.
  • Warm Compresses: Applying a warm compress to the abdomen can reduce muscle pain or discomfort resulting from coughing.
  • Avoiding Irritants: If smoking or other irritants are causing your cough, reducing exposure can alleviate the frequency and intensity of coughing episodes.

Medical Treatments

  • Physical Therapy: For muscle strains caused by coughing, physical therapy can help strengthen abdominal muscles and reduce pain.
  • Surgery: In cases where a hernia is causing the pain, surgical intervention may be necessary to correct the issue and relieve pain.

Consultation with Healthcare Providers

For persistent or severe stomach pain when coughing, it's crucial to consult with healthcare providers. They can diagnose the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment. Docus AI Symptom Checker can be a valuable tool in understanding your symptoms before consulting a healthcare professional.


General treatments may include:

  • Antacids or Acid Suppressants: For stomach pain associated with GERD or ulcers.
  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used cautiously to manage discomfort, following a doctor's advice.


Remember, when you cough and your stomach hurts, paying attention to this symptom and addressing it appropriately can prevent complications and improve your quality of life. Whether through lifestyle adjustments, medical treatment, or consulting with healthcare providers, taking action is a step toward better health.

Stomach Pain When Coughing: Prevention

Preventing stomach pain when coughing primarily involves addressing the risk factors and taking steps to avoid the onset of coughing episodes. Here are practical tips to help minimize your chances of experiencing this discomfort:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Reducing pressure on your abdomen can decrease the likelihood of pain when coughing.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking cessation not only reduces coughing but also improves overall lung health, which can prevent the issue.
  • Manage Chronic Conditions: Adequately managing conditions like asthma, GERD, or any chronic respiratory diseases can reduce coughing episodes and, as a result, stomach pain.
  • Strengthen Abdominal Muscles: Regular exercise, especially core strengthening exercises, can help make your abdominal muscles more resilient to the stress of coughing.
  • Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration can thin mucus, potentially reducing the need to cough.

Key Takeaways

  • Stomach pain when coughing can result from increased abdominal pressure, underlying medical conditions, or muscular strain.
  • Risk factors include obesity, smoking, chronic respiratory conditions, and previous abdominal surgeries.
  • Potential complications include chronic discomfort, worsening of underlying conditions, and muscle strain or injury.
  • Treatments vary from lifestyle changes and home remedies to medical interventions, depending on the underlying cause.
  • Prevention strategies include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, managing chronic conditions, strengthening abdominal muscles, and staying hydrated.


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