Common reasons you may be experiencing stomach pain when coughing are: pancreatitis, hernia, ovarian cysts, kidney stones...

Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Cough?

Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Cough?

If you suspect that you are in abdominal pain from coughing or sneezing an excessive amount, you may be right. Intense coughing, even from a short-term case of the common cold, can overuse and strain your stomach muscles, making your abdomen feel sore—and coughing, sneezing, or laughing especially uncomfortable.

There are many health conditions that cause abdominal pain as one of the symptoms, and when coughing, this pain can become worse. However, if the cause of abdominal pain is something serious, there are often other symptoms present in addition to the abdominal pain. By considering these additional symptoms, the cause of your abdominal pain can be narrowed down.

Can Severe Coughing Cause Abdominal Pain?

Coughing is a forceful action that can cause pain in the abdomen. Severe or frequent coughs, in particular, may cause pain in the stomach due to straining the stomach muscles.

However, if you frequently experience pain in the abdomen when coughing, the cause may be from another condition, and coughing is only exacerbating it. Other similar actions, such as sneezing or laughing, may also result in abdominal pain. However, if the pain is severe or delegated to a specific part of the abdomen, there may be another cause.

Where Does It Hurt?

When considering the cause of stomach pain, it is important to note where the pain occurs. Equally important is noting if the pain does not remain in one spot or if it encompasses a more extensive spread of the abdomen.

There are often four ways to categorize abdominal pain: left side, right side, lower abdomen, and upper abdomen. There can also be some overlap between these categories; for example, appendicitis typically causes pain in the lower right side of the abdomen.

Noting the pain’s location can help narrow down what is causing the pain, whether an inflamed organ, a cyst, or a hernia. The abdomen comprises a large amount of the body and many organs, so considering the location can help a doctor determine the cause.

Common Reasons for Stomach Pain When Coughing

The following are some common reasons for stomach pain when coughing.


Appendicitis is a condition that occurs when the appendix is inflamed. While those with appendicitis often feel pain at all times, this pain in the abdomen can worsen when coughing or performing other strenuous actions such as sneezing and exercising.

Appendicitis usually begins with pain in the middle of the abdomen that then spreads to the lower right side.

The symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • abdominal swelling or bloating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea or constipation

Appendicitis is a medical emergency, so if you experience any of the above symptoms, be sure to seek immediate medical services.


Gallstones result from a buildup of bile, bilirubin, or cholesterol in the gallbladder. Gallstones are typically asymptomatic at first, but they can lead to a gallbladder attack as they get bigger.

Symptoms of gallstones include:

  • abdominal bloating
  • severe abdominal pain lasting for at least 30 minutes at a time
  • fever or chills
  • pain in the upper back or right shoulder
  • jaundice
  • nausea or vomiting
  • gas or indigestion (especially after consuming fatty foods)

Treatment for gallstones may include medication to dissolve the gallstones or surgical removal.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hardened deposits typically found in the urine. However, when a kidney stone passes through the bladder and urethra, it can cause severe abdominal pain. Others may instead experience a persistent stomachache.

Additional symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • severe pain on one or both sides of your back
  • bloody urine
  • cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever or chills

Kidney stones do not always require treatment because they sometimes resolve on their own, and drinking extra water can help with this. In cases where the stone is too large to pass on its own, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove the stone. Other instances where surgery is recommended include when the stone blocks the ability to pass urine or if there is an infection.

Diverticular Disease

Those with diverticular disease have small sacs that push out against weak spots on their colon.

Mild cases often do not have any symptoms, but more severe cases can produce symptoms such as:

  • bloating
  • abdominal pain
  • fever or chills
  • nausea or vomiting
  • constipation or diarrhea

It is very rare for those with diverticular disease to have blood in their stool, but if this occurs, it is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. Treatment for diverticular disease can vary between medications, probiotics, or a high fiber diet.


Pain in the lower abdomen is one of the symptoms of cystitis, which is a common urinary tract infection that affects women more often than men.

Symptoms of cystitis include:

  • cloudy or dark urine that is foul-smelling
  • frequent urination
  • blood in your urine
  • feeling unwell

While mild cases typically resolve within three days, symptoms that get worse may require an antibiotic prescription from a doctor.


Pancreatitis is a condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, and this inflammation can be either acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis causes more severe symptoms (initially), while chronic pancreatitis can permanently damage the pancreas.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • pain in the abdomen that spreads to the lower back
  • abdominal pain that gets worse over time
  • loose or foul-smelling stools
  • abdominal swelling
  • unintentional weight loss

Severe pancreatitis typically requires emergency medical treatment and can be fatal if left untreated.


With endometriosis, tissues similar to the uterine lining grow outside the uterus, leading to significant pain in the pelvis, lower back, and lower abdominal areas. This pain worsens during sex, periods, urination, and bowel movements.

There is currently no cure for endometriosis, but treatments for pain include hormone therapy, pain medications, or surgery.


A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through a gap in the muscles surrounding it, with hernias in the abdomen being the most common. Sometimes, you can see or feel the bulging in your belly or groin area.

The pain caused by a hernia can worsen when:

  • coughing
  • running
  • sneezing
  • passing a bowel movement
  • lifting heavy things

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs (cysts) that develop in the ovaries. In most cases, there is no need to be concerned about ovarian cysts, even if they burst, because the body naturally manages them during the menstrual cycle.

However, some women may have large ovarian cysts requiring treatment. If an ovarian cyst is problematic, a woman may have symptoms such as:

  • lower abdominal pain
  • abdominal bloating or swelling
  • sharp pain in the side of your stomach

Doctors typically treat mild cysts with birth control pills, reserving surgery only for large cysts that do not respond to medication or are considered cancerous.

When to seek emergency room

It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present:

In most cases, stomach pain when coughing is not a cause of concern and may occur because of the forceful nature of coughing.

However, if the pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by any concerning symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, or changes in urine or bowel movements, it is crucial to visit the closest emergency room. Most of the conditions described above require medical treatment, whether in the form of medications or surgery.

We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.