Why Does My Side Hurt When I Cough? Exploring the Causes and Remedies


It’s not uncommon to experience side pain when coughing, which can be alarming and often painful. So, what causes this discomfort, and how can you prevent it from happening? In this article, we’ll cover the different causes of side pain during coughing, when it’s normal to feel it, and when it’s time to see a doctor. We’ll also explore natural remedies and healthy habits you can adopt to prevent side pain from happening in the first place.

Common Causes of Side Pain When Coughing

There are several common causes of side pain when coughing, including:

Strained muscles

One of the most common causes of side pain when coughing is from strained muscles, usually the intercostal muscles that run between the ribs. These muscles can become inflamed and painful when you cough frequently, causing sharp pain in your side.


Pneumonia is an infection that involves inflammation of the air sacs in one or both lungs, which can cause sharp side pain when you cough. The pain is often accompanied by a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.


Bronchitis is another common respiratory infection that causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes, resulting in coughing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. It can cause side pain due to the forceful coughing that accompanies it.


Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can cause wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. When you cough during an asthma flare-up, it can cause sharp pain in your side.

Acid reflux

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation in your chest, throat, and stomach, as well as sharp pain in your side when you cough.


Pleurisy is a condition in which the lining of the lungs and chest wall become inflamed, causing sharp pain when you take a deep breath, cough, or sneeze.


Injury to the ribs or chest wall can cause pain when you cough. This pain is often localized to the area of the injury and can be sharp and intense.

Is it Normal To Feel Side Pain When You Cough? Here’s What You Need To Know

Explanation of why coughing causes side pain

When you cough, your diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract forcefully, causing a significant amount of pressure and movement in your chest. This can lead to tiny tears in the muscles between your ribs, causing pain and discomfort when you cough.

Normality of side pain when coughing

If you’re otherwise healthy and experience side pain when you cough, it’s typically not a cause for concern. The pain will usually go away on its own as your muscles heal and recover.

When to worry about side pain when coughing

If you experience severe or persistent pain when you cough, or notice any other concerning symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, or coughing up blood, it’s important to see a doctor right away as it could be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

Understanding the Connection Between Coughing and Side Pain

Explanation of the connection between coughing and side pain

Coughing and side pain are often connected because of the pressure and movement that coughing creates in your chest. When you cough frequently, it can cause strains in your chest muscles, making them inflamed and painful.

Types of coughs that commonly cause side pain

Dry coughs are often the most frequent culprits in causing side pain as they are more forceful than other types of coughs. A productive cough, which produces phlegm, can also cause side pain due to its expulsion.

How to reduce the risk of side pain when coughing

You can reduce the risk of side pain when coughing by taking care of your chest muscles. This can be achieved by engaging in regular exercise, staying hydrated, and avoiding anything that might irritate your lungs, like smoking or exposure to air pollution.

What are the Possible Medical Conditions Behind Side Pain During Coughing

Detailed description of the medical conditions that cause side pain when coughing

Pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, acid reflux, pleurisy, and injuries to the chest can all cause side pain when coughing. More serious conditions, such as lung cancer or tuberculosis, can also cause side pain when coughing.

Symptoms to look out for

If you’re experiencing side pain when coughing, be on the lookout for other concerning symptoms like fever, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood.

Treatment options

The type of treatment you’ll need will depend on the underlying cause of your side pain when coughing. Some conditions, like pneumonia and bronchitis, may require antibiotics, while others, like asthma and acid reflux, may require ongoing management with medications. In cases of injury, rest and physical therapy may be recommended.

How to Stop Side Pain While Coughing: Simple Remedies to Try at Home

Natural remedies to try

Some natural remedies that can help alleviate side pain when coughing include staying hydrated, using a warm compress, and applying peppermint oil to your chest area.

Pain-relieving exercises

Stretching and deep breathing exercises can help strengthen your chest muscles and reduce the risk of muscle strains that cause side pain when coughing.

Healthy habits to adopt

Adopting healthy habits like exercising regularly, staying hydrated, quitting smoking, and avoiding exposure to air pollution can all help reduce your risk of side pain when coughing.

When to Call a Doctor for Side Pain During Coughing: Warning Signs to Watch Out For

Red flags to be aware of

If you’re experiencing severe or persistent pain when coughing, fever, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Importance of seeking medical attention

Ignoring side pain when coughing can lead to the condition worsening or turn into severe illness. Early diagnosis can positively impact treatment and reduce patient risk.

Medical tests and treatments to expect

Your physician may recommend undergoing tests like chest x-rays or CT scans to determine the underlying cause of your side pain when coughing. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis, but may involve antibiotics or medications to manage symptoms.

Don’t Ignore Side Pain When Coughing: Reasons Why It Could be Serious

Explanation of why side pain when coughing should not be ignored

Side pain when coughing could be a sign of a serious medical condition and should not be ignored as a mere muscle strain. Serious conditions like pneumonia, lung cancer, or tuberculosis can cause coughing and side pain, and without early diagnosis, complications can occur.

Serious health conditions that could occur

Untreated pneumonia, lung cancer, or tuberculosis, among other conditions, could lead to life-threatening complications or chronic respiratory conditions.

The importance of taking preventive measures

Simple preventive measures like keeping healthy, avoiding irritants, and engaging in healthy habits can play a role in reducing the risk of side pain when coughing.


In conclusion, side pain when coughing can be uncomfortable and alarming. However, by understanding common causes, adopting healthy habits, and seeking prompt medical attention if necessary, you can alleviate the pain and reduce the risk of complications. Don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing side pain when coughing, and take steps to maintain your respiratory health and prevent future incidents.

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