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Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Cough

Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Cough?

Do you ever find yourself tightly holding your stomach in pain when going through a bout of coughing?

‘My stomach hurts when I cough’ is a very common complaint that physicians come across – so if you find yourself asking ‘Why does my stomach hurt when I cough?’, you are not alone in wondering so.

In today’s blog, we will explore the relationship between cough and stomach pain – explaining the details of this discomfort and the causes behind it, along with sharing the most effective treatment options.

Can Coughing Cause Abdominal Pain?

The answer is yes! Coughing can indeed cause abdominal pain. When you cough, the muscles in your abdomen contract forcefully, putting strain on the surrounding organs and tissues – so if this strain is experienced frequently, it becomes painful. Understanding the mechanics of this process is crucial in revealing the unique link between cough and stomach pain.

Where Does It Hurt?

Stomach pain caused by coughing can manifest in several areas of the abdomen. From pain in lower abdomen when coughing to the upper abdomen, the pain may also be felt on either side of the abdomen. Pinpointing the exact location of the pain can provide valuable clues to help identify the underlying cause.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Cough?

Experiencing cough and stomach pain can be more than just a passing discomfort – it can also be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Here’s a list of conditions that can contribute to pain in lower abdomen when coughing.

  • Appendicitis: Appendicitis is a condition where the appendix becomes inflamed. When you cough, the added pressure on the abdominal area can intensify the pain associated with appendicitis. This is due to the inflammation and sensitivity of the organ, making coughing a trigger for discomfort.
  • Gallstones: Gallstones are solid particles that are formed in the gallbladder, and can be a source of intense abdominal pain. Coughing causes the gallbladder to contract, leading to increased pain for individuals with gallstones.
  • Kidney Stones: The presence of kidney stones can cause excruciating pain, and coughing can increase this discomfort. The movement of stones within the urinary tract can lead to heightened pain during coughing.
  • Diverticular Disease: Diverticular disease involves the formation of small pouches in the walls of the colon, which can become inflamed or infected. Coughing exerts pressure on the abdomen, potentially triggering pain.
  • Cystitis: Cystitis, or bladder inflammation, can cause abdominal pain that worsens with coughing. The irritation and sensitivity of the bladder heightens during coughing episodes.
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, can lead to abdominal pain. Coughing may intensify this pain as it puts additional strain on the abdominal muscles.
  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, and can cause abdominal pain during coughing, as the inflammation and sensitivity of the affected tissues gets aggravated by the forceful muscle contractions.
  • Hernia: A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Coughing increases intra-abdominal pressure, potentially causing a hernia to protrude further and leading to pain.
  • Ovarian Cysts: Cysts on the ovaries can cause abdominal pain, and coughing may further increase this pain due to the increased pressure on the pelvic area.
  • Weak Pelvic Muscles: Weak pelvic muscles can contribute to abdominal pain during coughing, as the lack of muscle support may allow increased movement of organs. Coughing can strain these weakened muscles, leading to discomfort.
  • Infections: Various infections, such as gastrointestinal or urinary tract infections, can cause abdominal pain. Coughing may increase this pain by further irritating the infected area and increasing overall abdominal pressure.

Treatments For Coughing-Induced Stomach Pain

Let’s explore this range of effective treatment options to get rid of the problems caused by the combined effect of cough and stomach pain.

  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can provide swift relief from stomach pain associated with coughing. Non-prescription pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort.
  • Prescription Medications: In cases where OTC medications are not enough, or if an underlying medical condition requires targeted treatment, prescription medications may be recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Hydration: Maintaining sufficient hydration is crucial for overall health and can play a significant role in managing stomach pain during coughing. Proper hydration helps soothe the digestive system and reduces discomfort.
  • Warm Compress: Applying a warm compress to the abdominal area can provide relief by relaxing tense muscles and easing discomfort. The warmth helps improve blood circulation, reducing muscle tension and promoting a sense of comfort.
  • Physical Therapy: For individuals experiencing chronic or recurrent stomach pain due to coughing, physical therapy can be a valuable treatment option. A physical therapist can design targeted exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles, improving their ability to bear the strain from coughing.
  • Probiotic Supplements: Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria is essential for digestive health. Probiotic supplements can aid in restoring this balance, potentially reducing stomach pain associated with coughing.

When to See a Doctor?

See a doctor if you experience persistent or worsening stomach pain during coughing, especially if accompanied by severe symptoms, respiratory issues, changes in bowel habits, or if you have pre-existing health conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my upper stomach hurt when I cough?

Coughing can engage abdominal muscles, causing strain. If pain is in the upper stomach, it might be due to muscle tension or irritation of organs in that area.

Can stomach pain during coughing affect sleep?

Yes, cough-related stomach pain can disrupt sleep. The discomfort may intensify when lying down, impacting your ability to rest.

Can natural remedies provide relief for stomach pain when coughing?

Yes, natural remedies like herbal teas or warm compresses may help alleviate stomach pain during coughing. However, effectiveness varies among individuals.

Can stomach pain during coughing be a sign of a respiratory issue?

Stomach pain during coughing is typically related to abdominal muscles. If respiratory symptoms persist, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.

Should I be worried if my stomach hurts when I cough?

Occasional pain might be normal, but persistent or severe discomfort warrants attention. Consult with a healthcare provider to rule out underlying issues and determine the appropriate course of action.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 01/10/2024

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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